Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Trump's Wall, A Placebo That Works and More

November 29, 2016|

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At the University of Florida, Parkinson’s disease patient Russell Price undergoes surgery to implant a deep brain stimulation (DBS) lead that will deliver electrical impulses to motion-controlling parts of his brain, treatment which has been shown to provide substantial relief from symptoms in appropriately selected patients. Additional improvement in some patients may also derive from the mere expectation that the procedure will help—the so-called placebo effect. “It’s not a magical thing,” says neurologis

At the University of Florida, Parkinson’s disease patient Russell Price undergoes surgery to implant a deep brain stimulation (DBS) lead that will deliver electrical impulses to motion-controlling parts of his brain, treatment which has been shown to provide substantial relief from symptoms in appropriately selected patients. Additional improvement in some patients may also derive from the mere expectation that the procedure will help—the so-called placebo effect. “It’s not a magical thing,” says neurologist Michael Okun. “It’s another part of the brain that is producing a beneficial effect not directly related to the action of our treatment.” Image by Erika Larson. Florida, 2016.

It's All In Your Head
Erik Vance

“Whether it takes the form of a touch of the Holy Spirit at a Florida revival meeting or a dip in the water of the Ganges, the healing power of belief is all around us,” writes grantee Erik Vance. In his cover story for National Geographic, Erik looks at the science behind the placebo effect and the way in which what we expect—and what we believe—can actually influence how we heal. “Studies suggest that regular religious services may improve the immune system, decrease blood pressure, add years to our lives.”

The Wall
Zach Fannin and Nick Schifrin

For better or worse, the US and Mexico will remain neighbors. In the first of two stories for the PBS NewsHour, grantees Nick Schifrin and Zach Fannin report from the border on how Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall is impacting ordinary lives on both sides.

The Appeal of Jihad
Elisabeth Zerofsky

Grantee Elisabeth Zerofsky looks at the recent epidemic of jihadist radicalization among young French citizens. “Islamist ideologies are seducing not only disaffected young men but also teen-age girls,” she writes, noting that nearly a third of new recruits are women.