Hypnosis appears to generate unusual—and sometimes even astonishing—changes in the contents of consciousness. Hypnotic subjects report perceiving things that are not there, they report not perceiving things that are there, and they report unusual alterations in the phenomenology of agency. In addition to apparent alterations in the contents of consciousness, hypnosis also appears to involve alterations in the structure of consciousness. According to many theorists—most notably Hilgard—hypnosis demonstrates that the unity of consciousness is an illusion (Hilgard 1977).
Cognitive functions associated with the frontal lobes of the brain may be specifi cally involved in hypnosis. Thus, the frontal area of the brain has recently been of great interest when searching for neural changes associated with hypnosis. We tested the hypothesis that EEG during pure hypnosis would differ from the normal non-hypnotic EEG especially above the frontal area of the brain. The composition of brain oscillations was examined in a broad frequency band (130 Hz) in the electroencephalogram (EEG) of (...) a single virtuoso subject. Data was collected in two independent data collection periods separated by one year. The hypnotic and non-hypnotic conditions were repeated multiple times during each data acquisition session. We found that pure hypnosis induced reorganization in the composition of brain oscillations especially in prefrontal and right occipital EEG channels. Additionally, hypnosis was characterized by consistent rightside-dominance asymmetry. In the prefrontal EEG channels the composition of brain oscillations included spectral patterns during hypnosis that were completely different from those observed during non-hypnosis. Furthermore, the EEG spectral patterns observed overall during the hypnotic condition did not return to the pre-hypnotic baseline EEG immediately when hypnosis was terminated. This suggests that for the brain, the return to a normal neurophysiological baseline condition after hypnosis is a time-consuming process. The present results suggest that pure hypnosis is characterized by an increase in alertness and heightened attention, refl ected as cognitive and neuronal activation. Taken together, the present data provide support for the hypothesis that in a very highly hypnotizable person (a hypnotic virtuoso) hypnosis as such may be accompanied by a changed pattern of neural activity in the brain. (shrink)
Cortex functional connectivity associated with hypnosis was investigated in a single highly hypnotizable subject in a normal baseline condition and under neutral hypnosis during two sessions separated by a year. After the hypnotic induction, but without further suggestions as compared to the baseline condition, all studied parameters of local and remote functional connectivity were significantly changed. The significant differences between hypnosis and the baseline condition were observable (to different extent) in five studied independent frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha, beta, and (...) gamma). The results were consistent and stable after 1 year. Based on these findings we conclude that alteration in functional connectivity of the brain may be regarded as a neuronal correlate of hypnosis (at least in very highly hypnotizable subjects) in which separate cognitive modules and subsystems may be temporarily incapable of communicating with each other normally. (shrink)
Data are never free of philosophical encumbrances. Nevertheless, philosophical issues are often considered peripheral to method and evidence. Historical perspectives likewise are not considered integral to most data-driven disputes in contemporary psychological science. This paper examines the history of the investigation of hypnosis over the last 75 years to illuminate how evidence and method are entangled with epistemology and ontology, how new research directions are forged by changes in the cultural and philosophical landscape, and how unacknowledged philosophical assumptions can result (...) in confusion and empirical cul-de-sacs. Theoretical disputes that appear to be simple empirical matters often entail hidden philosophical issues, and apparent historical continuity at the theoretical level can belie discontinuity at the ontological level. The lesson of hypnosis is that philosophical analysis is as important as methodological rigor. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
The phenomenon of hypnosis provides a rich paradigm for those seeking to understand the processes that underlie consciousness. Understanding hypnosis tells us about a basic human capacity for altered experiences that is often overlooked in contemporary western societies. Throughout the 200 year history of psychology, hypnosis has been a major topic of investigation by some of the leading experimenters and theorists of each generation. Today hypnosis is emerging again as a lively area of research within cognitive (systems level) neuroscience informing (...) basic questions about the structure and biological basis of conscious states. This book describes the latest advances in understanding hypnosis and similar trance states by researchers within the neuroscience of consciousness. It contains many new and exciting contributions from up and coming researchers and provides a lively debate on methodological and theoretical issues central to the development of emerging research paradigms in the neuroscience of conscious states. The book introduces and describes many of the recent new tools that have become available to researchers in this field. Academics, researchers, and clinicians wanting to develop their knowledge of the latest findings, theories and methods in the scientific study of hypnosis and related states of consciousness will find this an up to date guide to this rapidly advancing field. (shrink)
This functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study investigated high and low suggestible people responding to two visual hallucination suggestions with and without a hypnotic induction. Participants in the study were asked to see color while looking at a grey image, and to see shades of grey while looking at a color image. High suggestible participants reported successful alterations in color perception in both tasks, both in and out of hypnosis, and showed a small benefit if hypnosis was induced. Low suggestible people (...) could not perform the tasks successfully with or without the hypnotic induction. The fMRI results supported the self report data, and changes in brain activity were found in a number of visual areas. The results indicate that a hypnotic induction, although having the potential to enhance the ability of high suggestible people, is not necessary for the effective alteration of color perception by suggestion. (shrink)
Two experiments report on the construction of the Sense of Agency Rating Scale (SOARS), a new measure for quantifying alterations to agency. In Experiment 1, 370 participants completed a preliminary version of the scale following hypnosis. Factor analysis revealed two underlying factors: Involuntariness and Effortlessness. In Experiment 2, this two factor structure was confirmed in a sample of 113 low, medium and high hypnotisable participants. The two factors, Involuntariness and Effortlessness, correlated significantly with hypnotisability and pass rates for ideomotor, challenge (...) and cognitive items. Twelve week test-retest correlations showed that Involuntariness was highly stable, but Effortlessness only moderately stable. Analysis of the combined datasets from Experiments 1 and 2 showed both SOARS scores were significantly related to the derived factors of Woody, Barnier, and McConkey's (2005) 4-factor model of hypnotisability. This scale clarifies conceptual confusion around agentive action and provides empirical support for a multifactorial account of sense of agency. (shrink)
The thesis of cognitive penetrability, according to which cognitive states can affect perceptual experiences, remains the topic of intense debate among philosophers. A new candidate for a case of cognitive penetration is presented and defended. The candidate is based on studies involving suggestions that something is a certain way, which are usually given under hypnosis, rather than mere request to imagine that things are a certain way.
The demonstration that hypnotic suggestion can inhibit word/colour Stroop highlights one of the benefits of using hypnosis to explore cognitive psychology and in particular attentional processes. The compelling results using a rigorous design have particular relevance for the presumed automaticity of some forms of information processing. Moreover the results support the potential that hypnotic suggestion offers for creating clinically informed analogues of relevant psychological and neuropsychological conditions. As with all novel research, the results of Raz and Campbell raise further operational (...) and theoretical questions, relating in this case to the use of hypnotic, post-hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestion and the utility of existing measures of hypnotizability. (shrink)
Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one's own reflection in the mirror is a stranger. In two experiments, we tested the ability of hypnotic suggestion to model this condition. In Experiment 1, we compared two suggestions based on either the delusion's surface features (seeing a stranger in the mirror) or underlying processes (impaired face processing). Fifty-two high hypnotisable participants received one of these suggestions either with hypnosis or without in a wake control. In Experiment 2, we examined the extent (...) to which social cues and role-playing could account for participants' behaviour by comparing the responses of 14 hypnotised participants to the suggestion for impaired face processing (reals) with those of 14 nonhypnotised participants instructed to fake their responses (simulators). Overall, results from both experiments confirm that we can use hypnotic suggestion to produce a compelling analogue of mirrored-self misidentification that cannot simply be attributed to social cues or role-playing. (shrink)
We administered suggestions to see a gray-scale pattern as colored and a colored pattern in shades of gray to 30 high suggestible and eight low suggestible students. The suggestions were administered twice, once following the induction of hypnosis and once without an induction. Besides rating the degree of color they saw in the stimuli differently, participants also rated their states of consciousness as normal, relaxed, hypnotized, or deeply hypnotized. Reports of being hypnotized were limited to highly suggestible participants and only (...) after the hypnotic induction had been administered. Reports of altered color perception were also limited to high suggestibles, but were roughly comparable regardless of whether hypnosis had been induced. These data indicate that suggestible individuals do not slip into a hypnotic state when given imaginative suggestions without the induction of hypnosis, but nevertheless report experiencing difficult suggestions for profound perceptual alterations that are pheonomenologically similar to what they report in hypnosis. (shrink)
Participants of low and high hypnotic susceptibility were tested on a temporal order judgement task, both with and without hypnosis. Judgements were made of the order of presentation of light flashes appearing in first one hemi-field then the other. There were differences in the inter-stimulus intervals required accurately to report the order, depending upon which hemi-field led. This asymmetry was most marked in hypnotically susceptible participants and reversed when they were hypnotised. This implies not only that brain activity changes in (...) hypnosis, but also that there is a difference in brain function between people of low and high hypnotic susceptibility. The latter exhibited a faster-acting left hemisphere in the waking state, but faster right when hypnotised. (shrink)
This paper examines the fortunes of the controversial use of hypnosis to ‘enhance’ autobiographical memories in postwar America. From the 1950s through the early 1980s, hypnosis became increasingly popular as a means to exhume information thought to be buried within the mind. This practice was encouraged by lay understandings of memory drawn from a material culture full of new recording devices ; and during the years when the practice was becoming most popular and accepted, academic psychologists developed a contrary, reconstructive, (...) account of memory that was put to use in a series of battles meant to put an end to hypnotic recall. But popular commitment to the idea of permanent memory ‘recordings’ sustained the practice and the assumptions about memory and self that were associated with it, and in the face of a culture of academic psychology fully committed to the idea of ‘reconstructive’, malleable memory, a tidal wave of ‘enhanced’ memories swept America in the late 1980s and 1990s, in the so-called ‘memory wars’. These, in turn, provoked academic psychologists to research the claims and counter claims central to the memory wars. The paper will also make an argument about the importance of lay knowledge in the psychological sciences explored in this paper: that popular psychological beliefs played a significant, even formative role in defining the nature of forensic psychological expertise, and also the framing of elite academic psychological research. (shrink)
Research in cognitive neuroscience now considers the state of the brain prior to the task an important aspect of performance. Hypnosis seems to alter the brain state in a way which allows external input to dominate over internal goals. We examine how normal development may illuminate the hypnotic state.
Hypnosis is associated with profound changes in conscious experience and is increasingly used as a cognitive tool to explore neuropsychological processes. Studies of this sort typically employ suggestions following a hypnotic induction to produce changes in perceptual experience and motor control. It is not clear, however, to what extent the induction procedure serves to facilitate suggested phenomena. This study investigated the effect on suggestibility of a hypnotic induction and labelling that procedure ‘hypnosis.’ Suggestibility of participants was tested before and after (...) an adapted hypnotic procedure, which was either labelled as ‘hypnosis’ or as ‘relaxation.’ The hypnotic procedure produced a modest increase in suggestibility when it was called ‘relaxation,’ but a very significant increase if it was labelled ‘hypnosis.’ The results are important for both clinical and experimental applications and indicate that labelling an induction procedure ‘hypnosis’ is an important determinant of subsequent responses to suggestion. (shrink)
Hypnosis is neither a theory nor a therapy, but a psychological process which can be explained using a variety of theoretical perspectives and which can be incorporated into various conceptual schools of therapy. Like the proverbial three men and elephant, different theories of hypnosis emphasize its different facets. Various theories of personality, development, and behavior have described and explained different aspects of hypnosis. Current issues in the literature on hypnosis include hypnosis and memory and cognitive processes, hypnotic susceptibility, interface between (...) hypnosis and physiological parameters, and efficacy of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Although we are sympathetic to his central thesis about the illusion of will, having previously advanced a similar proposal, Wegner's account of hypnosis is flawed. Hypnotic behavior derives from specific suggestions that are given, rather than from the induction, of trance, and it can be observed in 90% of the population. Thus, it is very pertinent to the illusion of will. However, Wegner exaggerates the loss of subjective will in hypnosis.