Patent: Predicting Placebo Responders


Patent Development:  USPTO patent application # 14/351,561

“Bodily Self-Image and Methods for Predicting Placebo Response or Response Shift” Under active review (July 2018).

My patent submission, one related to the a-priori identification of placebo responders and response shifters prior to their enrollment into a clinical research study, is available for co-development, licensing or acquisition. Because understanding and controling both placebo response and response shift, processes that distort knowing the true efficacy and value of treatments, the patent has high “intrinsic value” with respect to drug development. [Warrent Buffett described intrinsic value as “the present value of the stream of cash that’s going to be generated by any financial asset between now and doomsday. And that’s easy to say and impossible to figure.”]

In many ways, the problem of placebo response originates from the differences between the right and left brain’s capabilities. The right brain perceives but does not conceive because the language centers are on the left. Yet, the behavioral economics literature shows that both hemispheres independently assess and act according to their abilities. These seemingly yield Kahneman’s (“Thinking, Fast and Slow”) experiencing self (System 1) and remembering self (System 2).

Petkova fig1 Frontiers 2011Even more basically, one can consider the right brain as only able to process perceptual information and the left brain as only able to process conceptual information, like words. Because the right brain cannot speak for itself, that requires language (concepts) of course, the extent to which the right brain informs our responding to the world has been overlooked, co-opted if you will, by language itself. But the right brain is fully competent. Processing percepts, like using the brake pedal in the car or having an “intuition” that a long mathematical equation just isn’t correct, seems more trivial than it is because language isn’t involved. That’s an error on our part – surmising that concepts are more important than percepts. Until you break this barrier, solving the mystery of the cause of placebo response and response shift will not be available.

The patent for predicting placebo responders and response shifters in QOL research, utilizes a person’s shifting between conceptual and perceptual views of their mental status and pain. It offers up a challenge to the conceptual system that can only be over-ridden by a strong response from the perceptual system. People who can make this shift more readily and completely are placebo responders. By more quickly and completely shifting out of the conceptual view, they lose the worry, fear and stress that comes along with the basic percept of, for example, pain and so report getting better because that detrimental, unnecessary baggage has gone.

Rubber hand imageThe initial method of the patent is cumbersome, to be sure, and probably best used for important phase II trials. But its value resides in testing our most strongly held concept, that we are our body. Further, it requires a perceptual response, a right hemispheric response, not one from a questionnaire that would encourage a conceptual response from the left hemisphere. However, the patent ensures that all other easier to administer tests that corrrelate to this shift of perspective that will undoubtedly come along are also covered by the patent itself.

Those who have not experienced virtual reality (VR) “embodiment” may scoff at the idea that someone could really experience acceptance of an artificial arm or full-body mannequin as being their own (i.e., identified as) body part or body – when, intellectually, they know otherwise.

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 1.22.19 PM

Click on the word “Enjoy” below for a short, fun video clip from “Good Morning Britain” for help changing that mindset (of the remembering self). Enjoy!

The question  raised by the patent is … “Are people who can more quickly and completely accept such experiences as truthful, “super shifters,” ones who will become placebo responders because they can more easily drop the concepts attendant to pain than others?”

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