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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002 Dec;59(12):1155-61.

Hypnotic suggestion and the modulation of Stroop interference.

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Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 1300 York Ave, Box 140, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Hypnosis has been used clinically for hundreds of years and is primarily a phenomenon involving attentive receptive concentration. Cognitive science has not fully exploited hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion as experimental tools. This study was designed to determine whether a hypnotic suggestion to hinder lexical processing could modulate the Stroop effect.


Behavioral Stroop data were collected from 16 highly suggestible and 16 less suggestible subjects; both naturally vigilant and under posthypnotic suggestion. Subjects were urged to only attend to the ink color and to impede reading the stimuli under posthypnotic suggestion.


Whereas posthypnotic suggestion eliminated Stroop interference for highly suggestible subjects, less suggestible control subjects showed no significant reduction in the interference effect.


This outcome challenges the dominant view that word recognition is obligatory for proficient readers, and may provide insight into top-down influences of suggestion on cognition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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