Aleksandrina Skvortsova is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leiden University at the department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology where she works on the topic of placebo effect.  She studies the role hormones play in placebo effects and investigates whether it is possible to trigger placebo effects in the hormonal system. To study hormonal placebo effects, Aleksandrina makes use of a classical conditioning method, known from Pavlov’s dogs. In one of her studies she found that it was possible to condition oxytocin, a hormone that has many positive effects on for example, stress and anxiety. Aleksandrina and her colleagues gave people oxytocin spray several times together with a conditioned stimulus, a distinctive smell, and afterwards replaced oxytocin with a placebo. Her research demonstrated that after several conditioning days, people showed a physiological reaction in response to the placebo similar to the one that they have in response to oxytocin. Using classical conditioning in order to change hormonal levels of people is of high relevance in clinical practice. Around 5 % of people are diagnosed with endocrine disorders and they suffer from a lack of certain hormones. Adding placebo’s to their medications might increase the production of the hormones they lack and significantly improve their treatment outcomes.

Aleksandrina believes that it is important to be able to deliver scientific results to a broad audience in an interesting but objective way. She would be interested in scientific outreach through the written and spoken media.

Aleksandrina can be found on:



Research Gate

Leiden University website