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Neurologists win Ig Nobel prize for discovering that scratching the other side relieves itching

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5193 (Published 23 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i5193
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

Neurologists from the University of Lübeck, Germany, have won the 2016 Ig Nobel prize for Medicine for showing that if you deceive the brain you can relieve an itch on the right side of a limb by scratching the equivalent spot on the left side.1

Andreas Sprenger, one of the prize winning researchers, told The BMJ that participants were tricked with mirrors or videos to think that the real itch was being scratched when actually a spot on the opposite arm was. The relief worked only when the participant was deceived.

He said that his group was interested in how perception modified pain. Sprenger noted that the method might be useful when people scratch at a severe itch and damage their skin.

The German scientists were among 10 winners of Ig Nobel awards, which recognise work …

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