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Neuroimage. 2013 Feb 1;66:361-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.073. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Activation of thalamus in motor imagery results from gating by hypnosis.

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Heinrich-Heine-University, Department of Neurology, Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany. Electronic address:
Heinrich-Heine-University, Department of Neurology, Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany.
Intakkt Psychological Solutions, Regional Office of the Milton-Erickson-Society for Clinical Hypnosis, Schneiderstr. 50, 47798 Krefeld, Germany.


The ability to mentally imagine the performance of automatic movements has been well-established being employed in sports and physiotherapy as a tool for motor learning and rehabilitation. This is probably mediated by engagement of the same brain areas as during real motor performance. Here we investigated the effect of hypnotic trance on the cerebral activation pattern engaged in motor imagery in 16 healthy, right-handed subjects using fMRI. Motor imagery as compared with rest was related to activations in the left medial frontal areas (preSMA/SMA), prefrontal- and frontal areas, putamen and inferior parietal areas. When compared with performance of the same movements motor imagery resulted in activation of the left middle frontal cortex, precuneus, and posterior cingulate. Under hypnotic trance there was one extra-activation in the left thalamus which occurred specifically in the motor imagery condition. The regional beta indices were highly correlated among the areas of the cortical-subcortical motor network. Our data accord with the notion that hypnotic trance enhances the motor control circuit engaged in motor imagery by modulating the gating function of the thalamus.


Cortical–subcortical motor network; Hypnosis; Motor imagery

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