Acupunctural Analgesia? Evaluation by Signal Detection Theory

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Science  07 Jun 1974:
Vol. 184, Issue 4141, pp. 1096-1098
DOI: 10.1126/science.184.4141.1096


Pain responses to noxious thermal stimulation decreased in the acupunctured arm of subjects as compared to the arm not treated with acupuncture; this result suggested that effective analgesia had been induced. However, sensory decision theory analysis of the data revealed no difference in discriminability. This failure to find a sensory (physiological) change strongly suggests that analgesia had not been induced. The sole effect of acupuncture was to cause the subjects to raise their pain criterion in response to the expectation that acture works.