Hypnosis uses the powerful effects of attention and suggestion to produce, modify and enhance a broad range of subjectively compelling experiences and behaviours. For more than a century, hypnotic suggestion has been used successfully as an adjunctive procedure to treat a wide range of clinical conditions. More recently, hypnosis has attracted a growing interest from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Recent studies using hypnotic suggestion show how manipulating subjective awareness in the laboratory can provide insights into brain mechanisms involved in attention, motor control, pain perception, beliefs and volition. Moreover, they indicate that hypnotic suggestion can create informative analogues of clinical conditions that may be useful for understanding these conditions and their treatments.
At a glance
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- Hypnotic visual illusion alters color processing in the brain. Am. J. Psychiatry 157, 1279–1284 (2000).
An influential paper that helped to tackle the issue of subjective report credibility in hypnotic phenomena by showing changes in colour-processing areas of the visual cortex after hypnotic suggestions.
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- Disruption of synaesthesia by posthypnotic suggestion: an ERP study. Neuropsychologia 48, 3360–3364 (2010). &
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- Pain affect encoded in human anterior cingulate but not somatosensory cortex. Science 277, 968–971 (1997). , , , &
- Hypnotic modulation of pain perception and of brain activity triggered by nociceptive laser stimuli. Cortex 49, 446–462 (2013). , , &
- Cerebral activation during hypnotically induced and imagined pain. Neuroimage 23, 392–401 (2004).
The first research report that used hypnotic suggestion and neuroimaging (fMRI) to demonstrate the neural correlates of functional pain in normal subjects.
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- Hypnotic suggestion and the modulation of Stroop interference. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 59, 1155–1161 (2002). , , &
- Hypnotic suggestion modulates cognitive conflict: the case of the flanker compatibility effect. Psychol. Sci. 17, 721–727 (2006). , , &
- Using suggestion to modulate automatic processes: from Stroop to McGurk and beyond. Cortex 49, 463–473 (2013).
A useful review of how top-down influences of hypnotic suggestion can selectively override cognitive processes traditionally considered involuntary and 'automatic'.
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- Neuro-hypnotism: prospects for hypnosis and neuroscience. Cortex 49, 365–374 (2013).
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An authoritative overview of the procedures, experiences and social context involved in hypnosis, including an important discussion of the proposition that hypnosis reflects an altered state of consciousness.
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- Dissociation in hysteria and hypnosis: evidence from cognitive neuroscience. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 82, 332–339 (2011).
A comprehensive review of 'hysteria' and the theoretical implications for conditions affecting voluntary motor or sensory function that have been modelled using hypnosis.
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- Hypnosis; a twilight zone of the top-down variety. Trends Cogn. Sci. 15, 555–557 (2011).
- Remembrance of hypnosis past. Am. J. Clin. Hypn. 49, 171–178 (2007). , &
- Imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability: an empirical analysis. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 77, 578–587 (1999).
An important and influential paper that provides a timely reminder that responsiveness to 'hypnotic' suggestions does not necessarily require hypnotic induction in highly suggestible individuals.
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- The neurophenomenology of neutral hypnosis. Cortex 49, 375–385 (2013).
A well-crafted study showing how variations in EEG band wave activity is dependent on phenomenology and hypnotic suggestibility when subjects engaged in a hypnotic state in which targeted suggestions were excluded.
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- Hypnotic induction decreases anterior default mode activity. Conscious. Cogn. 18, 848–855 (2009).
The first published research paper to show decreased brain activity in the anterior parts of the default-mode circuit in highly suggestible participants during hypnosis, confirming a distinctive and unique pattern of brain activation.
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- Modulating the default mode network using hypnosis. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypnosis 60, 206–228 (2012). et al.
- Suggested visual hallucination without hypnosis enhances activity in visual areas of the brain. Conscious. Cogn. 21, 100–116 (2012). et al.
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- Individual differences among hypnotic virtuosos: a case comparison. Aust. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 17, 131–140 (1989). , &
- Developing the Sense of Agency Rating Scale (SOARS): an empirical measure of agency disruption in hypnosis. Conscious. Cogn. 22, 684–696 (2013). , &
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- Personality, expectancy and hypnotizability. Pers. Individ. Dif. 39, 131–142 (2005). , &
- Interpretive sets, expectancy, fantasy proneness and dissociation as predictors of hypnotic response. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 63, 847–856 (1992). &
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- Could empathy be a predictor of hypnotic ability? Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 51, 390–399 (2003). &
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- A working model of the neurophysiology of hypnosis: a review of the evidence. Contemp. Hypn. 15, 3–21 (1998).
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- Hypnosis and hemispheric asymmetry. Conscious. Cogn. 19, 230–234 (2010).
- Hypnosis in the right hemisphere. Cortex 49, 393–399 (2013). , , , &
- Hypnosis and neuroscience: a cross talk between clinical and cognitive research. Arch. General Psychiatry 59, 85–90 (2002). &
- Increased anterior corpus callosum size associated positively with hypnotizability and the ability to control pain. Brain 127, 1741–1747 (2004). , , &
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- Further evidence that the callosum is involved in sustaining attention. Neuropsychologia 34, 927–935 (1996). &
- Understanding hypnosis metacognitively: rTMS applied to DLPFC increases hypnotic suggestibility. Cortex 49, 386–392 (2013).
A novel study that used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to show that responsiveness to hypnotic suggestion could be increased by disrupting activity in frontal cortical areas.
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- Default-mode network activity distinguishes Alzheimer's disease from healthy aging: evidence from functional MRI. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 101, 4637–4642 (2004). , , &
- On the degree of stability of measured hypnotizability over a 25-year period. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 56, 289–295 (1989). , &
- The heritability of hypnotic suggestibility in twins. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 82, 55–61 (1973).
- Exploratory association study between catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) high/low enzyme activity polymorphism and hypnotizability. Am. J. Med. Genet. 96, 771–774 (2000). , , &
- Attention and hypnosis: neural substrates and genetic associations of two converging processes. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 53, 237–258 (2005).
- Prefrontal neurons and the genetics of schizophrenia. Biol. Psychiatry 50, 825–844 (2001). et al.
- Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 14, 340–347 (2002). , , , &
- 115–132 (Brunner-Routledge, 2004). in The Highly Hypnotizable Person: Theoretical, Experimental and Clinical Issues (eds Heap, M. Brown, R. J. & Oakley, D. A.)
- Correlates of hypnotizability in children: absorption, vividness of imagery, fantasy play and social desirability. Am. J. Clin. Hypn. 34, 51–58 (1991). , &
- 52–79 (Guilford Press, 1994). & in Dissociation: Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives (eds Lynn, S. J. & Rhue. J. W.)
- Mesmerising memories: brain substrates of episodic memory suppression in posthypnotic amnesia. Neuron 57, 159–170 (2008). , , &
- Modulation of gastric acid secretion by hypnosis, Gastroenterology 96, 1383–1387 (1989). &
- Differential brain activations during intentionally simulated and subjectively experienced paralysis. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 8, 295–312 (2003). , &
- Post-hypnotic responding away from the hypnotic setting. Psychol. Sci. 9, 256–262 (1998). &
- Imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability. Curr. Direct. Psychol. Sci. 10, 57–61 (2001). &
- Varieties of attention in hypnosis and meditation. Conscious. Cogn. 21, 1582–1585 (2012). , &
- 1933). Hypnosis and Suggestibility: an Experimental Approach (Appleton-Century-Crofts,
- Expression of nonconscious knowledge via ideomotor actions. Conscious. Cogn. 21, 976–982 (2012). &
- Magic at the market place: choice blindness for the taste of Jam and the smell of tea. Cognition 117, 54–61 (2010). , , , &
- Suggestion, cognition and behavior. Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. 21, 151–156 (2012). , &
- Conditioning, expectancy and the placebo effect: comment on Stewart-Williams and Podd (2004). Psychol. Bull. 130, 341–343 (2004).
- Fibromyalgia pain and its modulation by hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestion: an fMRI analysis. Eur. J. Pain 13, 542–550 (2009). , &
- Enhancement of suggestibility and imaginative ability with nitrous oxide. Psychopharmacology 203, 745–752 (2009). &
- Controlled and automatic human information processing. II. Perceptual learning, automatic attending and a general theory. Psychol. Rev. 84, 127–190 (1977). &
- Effects of hypnotizability on performance of a Stroop task and event-related potentials. Percept. Mot. Skills 88, 819–830 (1999). , , &
- Doing better by getting worse: posthypnotic amnesia improves random number generation. PLoS ONE 6, e29206 (2011). &
- 2nd edn (eds Lynn, S. J., Rhue, J. W. & Kirsch, I.) 79–117 (American Psychological Association, 2010). & in Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis
- The functional anatomy of imagining and perceiving colour. Neuroreport 9, 1019–1023 (1998). et al.
- Anomalous control: when 'free will' is not conscious. Conscious. Cogn. 13, 646–654 (2004). , , &
- Cortical representation of the sensory dimension of pain. J. Neurophysiol. 86, 402–411 (2001).
The second of two, now classic, studies in which hypnotic suggestions targeting either the affective or the sensory components of a physically induced pain experience resulted in activation in selective and different areas of the brain.
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- Talking to the senses: modulation of tactile extinction through hypnotic suggestion. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6, 210 (2012). , &
- Hypnotic imagery as a treatment for phantom limb pain: two cases and a review. Clin. Rehabil. 16, 368–377 (2002). , &
- Hypnosis for rehabilitation after stroke: six case studies. Contemp. Hypn. 23, 173–180 (2006). , , &
- Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy: a meta-analysis. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 63, 214–220 (1995). , &
- A meta-analysis of hypnoticall induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 48, 138–153 (2000). , &
- 697–725 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008). & in The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis: Theory, Research and Practice (eds Nash, M. R. & Barnier, A. J.)
- A paradigm for determining the clinical relevance of hypnotically induced psychopathology. Psychol. Bull. 59, 344–352 (1962).
- 66–109 (Wiley, 1988). & in Delusional Beliefs: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (eds Oltmanns, T. F. & Maher, B. A.)
- Hypnotic illusions and clinical delusions: hypnosis as a research method. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 15, 202–232 (2010). &
- Post-hypnotic amnesia for autobiographical episodes: a laboratory model of functional amnesia? Psychol. Sci. 13, 232–237 (2002).
- The functional anatomy of a hypnotic paralysis: implications for conversion hysteria. Lancet 356, 986–987 (2000). , , &
- Using hypnosis to develop and test models of psychopathology. J. Mind Body Regul. 1, 4–16 (2011). &
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- Unexplained somatic symptoms, functional syndromes, and somatization: do we need a paradigm shift? Ann. Intern. Med. 134, 926–930 (2001). &
- The mirror neuron system under hypnosis: brain substrates of voluntary and involuntary motor activation in hypnotic paralysis. Cortex 49, 437–445 (2013). et al.
- Time course of motor inhibition during hypnotic paralysis: EEG topographical and source analysis. Cortex 49, 423–436 (2013). , , , &
- The functional anatomy of suggested limb paralysis. Cortex 49, 411–422 (2013). et al.
- Neurophysiological correlates of post-hypnotic alexia: a controlled study with Stroop test. Am. J. Clin. Hypn. 52, 219–233 (2010). et al.
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- The cognitive unconscious. Science 237, 1445–1452 (1987).
Using examples from automatic processes, subliminal perception, implicit memory and hypnosis, this influential paper helped to generate renewed interest in cognitive structures and processes outside conscious awareness.
- Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature Neurosci. 11, 543–545 (2008). , , &
- From dynamic lesions to brain imaging of behavioural lesions: alloying the gold of psychoanalysis with the copper of suggestion. Neuropsychoanalysis 12 (2010). &
A compelling authoritative introduction to the field, this brief history covers hypnosis beliefs, practices, theories and research from Mesmer to the present day, including reference to its social context and relationship with mainstream psychology.
& Hypnosis: A Brief History (Wiley-Blackwell,
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- Hypnotic depth and response to suggestion under standardised conditions and during fMRI scanning. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 55, 32–58 (2007). , &
- Induced hearing deficit generates experimental paranoia. Science 212, 1529–1531 (1981). , &
- “Credulous” and “skeptical” views of hypnotic phenomena: experiments on esthesia, hallucination, and delusion. J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. 62, 189–200 (1961).
- Hypnotic sex change: creating and challenging a delusion in the laboratory. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 104, 69–74 (1995). &
- Information processing during hypnotically suggested sex change. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypn. 49, 231–242 (2001). , &
- 'That's not my arm': a hypnotic analogue of somatoparaphrenia. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 17, 36–63 (2012). , , , &
- Developing hypnotic analogues of clinical delusions: mirrored-self misidentification. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 13, 406–430 (2008). et al.
- Mirror agnosia and the mirrored-self misidentification delusion: a hypnotic analogue. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 17, 197–226 (2012). , , , &
- The cognitive neuropsychology of delusions. Mind Lang. 15, 184–218 (2000). &
- Delusional belief. Ann. Rev. Psychology 62, 271–298 (2011). , &
- Hereditary prosopagnosia: the first case series. Cortex 43, 734–749 (2007). et al.