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Stanford University reveals brain activity during hypnosis

There's more going on than a nice rest.

A recent Stanford University study conducted at his medical school revealed the neuroscience of the hypnotic state, published in an online article by Cerebral Cortex.


Now that we know which regions of the brain are involved


The lead author of the study was Dr David Spiegel, MD, Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, who said: “Now that we know which regions of the brain are involved, we can use these. knowledge to modify someone's ability to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems such as pain control. Research on hypnosis in the past has focused on its abilities to manage pain, vision and other aspects of perception, while this study focused on hypnosis itself.


The brains of 57 subjects were scanned during the type of hypnosis typically conducted to treat pain, trauma, and anxiety, and the results showed specific areas of neuronal change in activity and connectivity. In particular, each individual was scanned by recalling a memory, while resting and during two guided hypnosis sessions. The subjects were divided into two groups: those tested to have a high degree of hypnotizability and a control group of an extremely low degree.


Researchers saw for the first time a decrease in activity in a region of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate, responsible for functions such as emotions, impulse control and decision making.


They then saw connections with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula, which are responsible for how the brain oversees what goes on in the body.


Finally, the team saw a drop in the parts of the brain responsible for linking an action to awareness of the action. This lack of self-focus, typical of any absorbent activity like drawing or golf, is also a hallmark of the hypnotic state.


“Hypnosis is the oldest form of Western psychotherapy, but its reputation has been diminished by the play of dangling watches and purple cloaks,” Spiegel said. “In fact, it's a very powerful way to change the way we use our mind to control our perception and our body. "