Previous projects

The first triennial funding period from 2011 to 2013 entitled “Expectation and conditioning as basic processes of the placebo and nocebo response – From neurobiology to clinical applications” has been completed successfully.

The overall aims of this first funding period were the elucidation of pathways involved in the action of placebo and nocebo mechanisms, on both the neurobiological and psychological level across different physiological systems and diseases, and gaining knowledge for everyday clinical practice. Chronic pain in healthy subjects and in chronic pain patients, patients with Parkinson´s Disease, gastrointestinal functions and disorders, and patients before and after heart surgery have been investigated during this phase.  

The cooperation between basic and application-oriented research has been very effective. During the next funding period this successful collaboration will be improved, intensified, and findings will be transferred into clinical practice (here you find the current projects of the DFG research unit).

The following table gives you an overview of the previous projects of the DFG research group.

ProjectProject LeaderPhD Students

Subproject 1

The impact of expectation and conditioning on drug efficacy: An fMRI study using “open/hidden” drug paradigms of analgesia

Prof. Dr. U. Bingel,

Department of Neurology, Hamburg Eppendorf


Subproject 2

Placebo effects on the immune response: Time kinetics and clinical feasibility of the behavioral conditioned immunosuppression in humans

Prof. Dr. Manfred Schedlowski

Dept. of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology Duisburg-Essen

Prof. Dr. Oliver Witzke & Prof. Dr. Andreas Kribben

Department of Nephrology, Duisburg-Essen

Dipl.-Biol. Antje Albring

Dipl.-Psych. Sabine Vits

M.Sc. Laura Wendt

Subproject 3

Mechanisms of placebo anxiolysis

Dr. Rafael Kalisch & Prof. Dr. Christian Büchel

Dept. of Systems Neuroscience University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf

Dipl.-Biol. Benjamin Meyer

Subproject 4

The role of serotonin in visceral and somatic placebo analgesia

Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Dr. Sibylle Klosterhalfen & Prof. Dr. Stephan Zipfel

Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Tübingen

Dipl.-Psych. Björn Horing 

Dipl.-Psych. Katja Weimer

Subproject 5

Placebo modulation of visceral pain processing: Behavioural and neural responses in healthy males and females and patients with chronic abdominal pain

Prof. Dr. Sigrid Elsenbruch

Dept. of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology, Duisburg-Essen

Prof. Dr. Elke Gizewski

Dept. of Neuroradiology, University Medical Center Gießen

Prof. Dr. Michael Forsting

Dept. of Radiology and Neuroradiology, University Medical Center Duisburg-Essen

Dipl.-Psych. Julia Schmid

Subproject 6

Psychobiological mechanisms of placebo and nocebo effects in the treatment of chronic back pain patients

Prof. Dr. Herta Flor

Dept. of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, ZI Mannheim

Regine Klinger

Dept. of Psychology, Hamburg

Dipl.-Psych. Maike Müller

Dipl.-Psych. Julia Schmitz

Subproject 7

Motor and cognitive placebo responses in Parkinson´s disease patients with subthalamic deep brain stimulation


Prof. Dr. Alfons Schnitzler

Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology, Düsseldorf

Dr. Lars Wojtecki

Center for Movement Disorders and Neuromodulation, Neurological Clinic, Düsseldorf

Dipl.-Psych. Ariane Keitel

Subproject 8

Clinical applications of placebo research: Optimizing expectation effects in cardiac surgery patients

Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief

Dept. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Prof. Dr. Rainer Moosdorf

Heart Center Marburg

Mag. rer. nat.  Johannes Laferton

Dipl.-Psych. Charlotte Auer

Subproject 9 - intended in 2012

Side effect prevention training for nocebo effects

Dr. Yvonne Nestoriuc & Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief

Dept. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Prof. Dr. Ute S. Albert

Dept. of Gynaecology, Gynaecological Endocrinology und Oncology

Dipl.-Psych. Pia von Blanckenburg

Dipl.-Psych. Frankziska Schuricht

Dipl.-Psych. Sarah Heisig

Subproject z

Central Tasks of all Subprojects of the DFG Research Unit

Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief

Dept. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Dr. Bettina Doering