Effect of the placebo control condition in neuroendocrine challenge studies

Paul A. Thompson*, Michael Maes, Herbert Y. Meltzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Neuroendocrine challenge studies are frequently used to make inferences about the pathophysiology of psychiatric illness or about the effects of chronic psychotropic drug treatment on brain monoamine function. The outcome of these exploratory neuroendocrine tests, however, may be influenced by the effects of confounding variables, such as specific stress effects and variations in basal hormone levels. The inclusion of a placebo control condition minimizes the variability due to these variables. A number of recent neuroendocrine studies have omitted the placebo control condition. Based on experimental data, it can be shown that failure to include a placebo control condition may result in both Type I and Type II errors of inference. These results suggest a placebo control condition should be included in exploratory neuroendocrine challenge studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-326
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1994


  • Prolactin
  • cortisol
  • depression
  • experimental design
  • schizophrenia
  • statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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