[not in handout, see e-journal]
Exton, M. S., von Auer, A. K., Buske Kirschbaum, A., Stockhorst, U., Goebel, U., & Schedlowski, M. (2000). Pavlovian conditioning of immune function: Animal investigation and the challenge of human application. Behavioural Brain Research, 110(1-2), 129-141. normal www version of this paper gif (log on first for access outside the College.)  

Some brief notes and extracts are listed below.

Healthy human subjects given a sherbet sweet just before an epinephrine (adrenalin) injection, which produces an increase in NK (natural killer) cells in the blood



figure 4

figure 5 - discrimination of CS+ and CS- on alternate days. No injection on test days 11(+), 12(-) & 13(+)


5. Conclusions Since the first controlled demonstration of conditioned changes in immune function more than 20 years ago [1], many models have been developed to demonstrate that numerous functions of the immune system are sensitive to classical conditioning. Nevertheless, there remains a paucity of knowledge concerning the neuroendocrine mechanisms driving these responses, as well as the possible clinical benefit to be derived from them. Our data demonstrate that the sympathetic nervous system plays an integral role in effecting conditioned immunomodulation in both animals and healthy humans.


Pavlovian conditioning of immune functions provided early impetus to the rapidly expanding knowledge of bi-directional communication among the immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems. Since these early investigations, the phenomenology of this response has been well characterized. However the neural mechanisms and biological relevance of conditioned immunomodulation remain unclear. To this end, we present here data from our laboratories that have: (1) revealed some of the neural mechanisms and biological relevance of an animal model of conditioned immunomodulation; (2) demonstrated the conditionability and potential mechanisms of conditioned immune responses in healthy humans, and (3) investigated conditioned immunomodulation in a clinical sample. Together, these data demonstrate that animal models provide a basis for investigating mechanisms whereby conditioned changes in immune function may modulate health status in a clinical realm.