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Brain affected by hypnosis

16th November 2009

Researchers at Hull University have found that the effects of hypnosis can be detected in brain scans.

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The team carried out an imaging study where people who had been hypnotised showed less activity in the areas of the brain associated with daydreams.

This decreased activity was not present in participants who were not affected by being hypnotised.

The study selected 10 participants who were "highly suggestible" to hypnotic suggestion and seven people who only became "more relaxed" when the method was carried out on them.

The participants were requested to carry out tasks while they were hypnotised and their brain responses were observed in the rest periods between the tasks.

The researchers found that the "highly suggestible" people showed less activity in the "default mode network" part of their brains.

Study leader Dr William McGeown, a lecturer in the department of psychology, said the results could not be disputed because they were only observed in the suggestible participants.

"This shows that the changes were due to hypnosis and not just simple relaxation. Our study shows hypnosis is real."

Dr Michael Heap, a clinical forensic psychologist based in Sheffield, said "Importantly the data confirm that relaxation is not a critical factor. The limited data from this experiment suggest that this pattern of activity then dissipates (at least to some extent) once the subjects start to engage in the suggestions that follow."

 

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