Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Experimental Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Roy Cain

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary Montgomery

Third Advisor

Dr. Jerwen Jou


Effects of suggestion and placebos in pain therapy have become a modern theme in pain management. This study was designed to investigate whether suggestive false biofeedback, compared with a true biofeedback control condition, would have an effect on pain perception ratings in a simplified version of a cold pressor task (CPT). Psycho-physiological measures of electrical cortical activity (EEG) and muscle tension (EMG) combined with psychological correlates (verbal and visual pain ratings) were also assessed.

A separate 2 (gender) x 2 (feedback condition) x 6 (time segment) mixed-design ANOVA was performed for (a) EEG frontal and (b) parietal lobe alpha activity, (c) EMG activity and (d) verbal pain ratings (VPR). Statistical significance supported physiological differences in brain electrical activity between the biofeedback and suggestive false biofeedback condition. A psychological difference in genders for verbal pain ratings was also found. This suggests that a biofeedback placebo may effectively produce a physiological change in pain levels, while the individuals' subjective analyses of the situation remain unchanged.


Copyright 1999 Tobie Jay Escher. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American