The BBC has reported research from Hull University that used brain scans to detect the effects of hypnosis on the brain.
The study of hypnotized people showed decreased activity in the parts of the brain associated with a wandering mind or daydreaming. So, we now know that daydreaming is a different experience than being in hypnosis.
The brain patterns of people who were not in hypnosis (the control group) were different were than those who were hypnotized.
One of the psychologists associated with the study thought that the study backed the theory that hypnosis “primes” the brain to be open to suggestion. “This (study’s findings) shows that the changes were due to hypnosis and not just simple relaxation.”
Dr. William McGeown, study leader thinks that the design of the study established that the changes in the brain patterns were due to hypnosis and not just a result of the tasks the the study participants were asked to perform.
Dr. William McGeown, study leader thinks that the design of the study established that the changes in the brain patterns were due to hypnosis and not just a result of the tasks the the study participants were asked to perform. The brain patterns of the hypnotized subjects were measured in the rest periods between tasks to exclude the possibility that the changes in brain patterns were simply a result of doing the experimental tasks. An example of one of the experimental tasks would be listening to non-existent music. The brain patterns of the hypnotized were different than the brain patterns of the control group who were not hypnotized and who were just asked to relax.
Results of the study were published in The Journal Consciousness and Cognition.
One suggestion of how hypnosis works, supported by the results, is that shutting off the activity of the areas of the brain associated with daydreaming leaves the brain free to concentrate on other tasks.
Dr. McGeown, said the results of the study were unequivocal because the changes in brain patterns only occurred in the hypnotized subjects and not the study group. “This shows that the changes were due to hypnosis and not just simple relaxation. “Our study shows hypnosis is real.” (This will certainly be of little surprise to regular readers of this blog.)
A clinical forensic psychologist based in Sheffield, England, Dr. Michael Heap, said the experiment was unique in showing brain patterns supporting the theory that hypnosis works by “priming” the subject to respond more effectively to suggestions. “Importantly the data confirm that relaxation is not a critical factor.”
This blog post is based on an article published on the BBC News website.