Psychoneuroimmunology in the present:
The state of publications in the ﬁeld
Pablo Vera-Villarroel & Ana María Fernández1
La Psiconeuroinmunología (PNI) es un campo de investigación que
concierne las relaciones direccionales entre el cerebro, el
comportamiento y el sistema inmunológico. En un esfuerzo por aﬁrmar el
estado actual del campo, analizamos la producción cientíﬁca de la PNI
utilizando el sistema más reconocido de productividad cientíﬁca, ISI red
de conocimiento SM de acuerdo al siguiente análisis: Publicaciones sobre
PNI, por país de origen, año, autores principales, diarios, y el
lenguaje de la publicación. Los resultados muestran que en 1987, el
campo produjo 4 artículos, incrementando a un total de 47 artículos en
el 2004. Los tres autores más productivos en el área son Glaser, Ader y
Maes. La institución más prolíﬁca es la Ohio State University (con 33
artículos). Los tres diarios que publican el mayor número de artículos
son: Brain Behavior and Immunity, Psychosomatic Medicine y Psychotherapy
Los resultados son prometedores en términos de producción cientíﬁca,
mostrando que la importancia interdisciplinaria de la investigación en
PNI está en crecimiento.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a ﬁeld of research that is concerned with
bi-directional relationships between the brain, behavior and the immune
system. Therefore, its main interest is been to demonstrate the inﬂuence
and communication between the central nervous system and immune
Compared to other areas of health science, PNI is rather an emerging
ﬁeld in psychology and health. Beginning with the work of Ader & Cohen,1
there have been diverse ﬁndings on the relationship between psychology
and immune functioning. These authors demonstrated that immune
responding could be conditioned by associative learning of a sweetened
solution and an immune activated drug. In this way, rats who had
experienced this association responded to the stimuli with an overall
diminution of immune response. Potential applications of this ﬁnding are
quite extended, since it points to the postulation that the immune
system may respond to learning principles in the same way that motor
In research with humans, it has been found that situations involving
stress or anxiety, such as depression, taking care of the ill, death of
a family member, and the like; are related to immune functioning.
Similarly, psychological variables such as perceived stress and
attributional styles appear to be related to immune functioning in
different populations, for example people who are undergoing the
symptoms of HIV-AIDS and the elderly.4,5
Although PNI is a ﬂourishing area of research, it is a ﬁeld that has
been hard to establish in the discipline. However, due to a serious
commitment from its proponents to science and empirical research, PNI is
becoming a productive area of multidisciplinary exchange among most
In an effort to assess the present state of PNI as a ﬁeld, and as way to
determine its impact on the Spanish speaking community we analyzed the
scientiﬁc production of PNI using the most recognized system of scienti
ﬁc productivity, ISI web of knowledge SM, In this way we present an
analysis of publications in PNI in terms of country of origin, years,
principal authors and journals, as well as informing of the language of
Unit of Analysis
We accessed the ISI web of knowledge SM database (that includes access
to the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index
and Arts & Humanities Citation Index) from the virtual library service
offered to faculty and students of Universidad de Santiago, Chile; and
we evaluated all of the indexed publications dating from 1988 to 2005.
We proceeded to do a search using the keyword “Psychoneuroimmunology,”
and obtained the results we present below, organized by different
Year of Publication
It is possible to observe in Table 1, that the distribution of
publications in the area of PNI starts with four article in 1987, a
pattern that is maintained in 1988, to increase to a maximum of 61
articles per year in 1997 and 1998. Then in 2003, 60 articles in PNI are
published, to end with a total of 47 articles in 2004. It is necessary
to advise that the number of publications in 2004 may vary, since the
data were gathered on the ﬁrst week of 2005, leaving room to a short
period of time between an article’s publication and database entry.
Therefore, the indicator for 2004 may vary in future analysis.
Most productive authors
The results of the search yielded a total of 1679 authors publishing in
PNI. In Table 2 appear the 10 authors that are most productive in the
ﬁeld, from which is possible to distinguish Glaser, Ader, and Maes with
21, 17 and 12 articles respectively. It can be observed that the number
of articles published among the most productive authors ranges from a
minimum of 9 to a maximum of 21 publications in PNI per author.
Language of Publications
Table 4 shows the number and percentages of publications on each
language. Most of the articles are published in English (91.3%) and only
a 1,5% of the articles are in Spanish. This is a predictable trend,
since most of ISI publications are in English. In Table 5 appear all the
10 articles in PNI that are published in Spanish.
The most proliﬁc journals in PNI Finally,
the most productive journals are presented in Table 6. As one would
expect, the journal that publishes the higher number of articles is
Brain Behavior and Immunity, (68 articles) which is a publication
exclusively concerned with PNI. Following, Psychosomatic Medicine and
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics had a total of 42 and 14 articles
Research in psychoneuroimmunology has risen from a few publications in
1988 to a production of over 40 articles per year since 1996. According
to the present analysis most scientiﬁc reports in the ﬁeld are prepared
English language. This doesn’t mean that
other languages are not concerned with PNI, but rather it shows that
most research in the ﬁeld is published in English. It is important to
note that Ohio State University is responsible for more than half of the
production in the area, which is remarkable in terms of institutional
interest in PNI, although it clearly warrants an overrepresentation of
its research proclivities in the ﬁeld.
Finally, the results are promising in terms of scienti ﬁc production in
the ﬁeld, showing that from a modest total of four publications per
year, a decade ago, the interdisciplinary importance of research in PNI
has raised over a thousand percent.
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