Hypnosis & Brain Function

Hypnosis & Brain Function

May 30, 2020 by Prasad Amore0
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Advancement in the field of neuroscience and the facility to observe the brain functions using technologies such as EEGfMRIPETand rCBF provides us with exact information on the hypnosis state and its effects on the mental and physical functions.

Scientists had come to notice several changes in the subject’s brain, using fMRI, when the subject reaches a hypnosis state. The subject showcased more activities on the left side of the Prefrontal Cortex and the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. Scientists also found that activities occurred at the brain centres, which helps the subject to be conscious of colour on hypnotic instruction. The primary function of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex is to evaluate the emotional functions and identify mistakes.

 In the PET scan, the subject showcased lower blood circulation at the Interior Parietal Lobe and Cingulate Cortex. At Frontal Cortex, the subject showed increased blood flow. While investigating the subject with EEF during deep hypnosis, there were high-intensity theta functions.

 A study conducted at Harvard University found that during hypnosis subject’s inspiration can be changed. The subject experienced a high level of mental concentration with hypnosis. Crisis troubling the subject’s thoughts, imagination, emotions, etc. are driven away with hypnosis.

 Professor W.H.R Miltner at Lehrstuhl für Klinische Psychologie explains about how the brain makes a hypnotic state possible. He has been working on the phenomenon for decades. First, the professor closely looked at the processing of visual stimuli. During the experiment, the professor divided the participants into 3 groups:

  1. very suggestible individuals (susceptible to hypnosis)
  2. average suggestibility
  3. low suggestibility.

Dr. Barbara Schmidth, who conducted the experiment, made the participants look at a screen that showed various symbols (circle, triangle, etc.) under hypnosis. The participants were assigned to count a particle symbol as well as told to imagine a wooden board in front of their eyes. The number of counting errors raised significantly with the suggested obstruction. However, the effects were noticed on all the three groups, but stronger with the first group as they were more susceptible to hypnosis.

To observe brain activity, Dr. Barbara Schmidth linked up the participants with EEG. He looked at the neural processes in the brain when the participants were processing the symbols. He noticed that around 400 milliseconds after the presentation of the to-be-counted symbol, he saw a reduced brain activity, even though it should be usually very high. However, a short time before this, upto 200 milliseconds after the presentation of the stimulus, there are no seen differences. This implies that simple perception occurs; however, deeper processing operations (counting) get significantly impaired.

This experient helped the psychologists at the University of Jena understand how the hypnosis influences the specific regions of the brain while receiving a visual stimulus.

Prasad Amore

Prasad Amore is a Licensed Rehab. Psychologist by RCI, Govt. of India. The 2nd Indian who has achieved the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma through National Qualification Framework of British Government. He is a psychological consultant and trainer helping individuals suffering with mental health issues and other psychological problems. He is a freelance writer and authored 5 books in Psychology and Social Science.


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