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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Jul 24;8:528. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00528. eCollection 2014.

Hypnotic induction is followed by state-like changes in the organization of EEG functional connectivity in the theta and beta frequency bands in high-hypnotically susceptible individuals.

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School of Behavioural, Cognitive & Social Sciences, University of New England Armidale, NSW, Australia.
Aston Brain Centre, School of Life & Health Sciences, Aston University Birmingham, UK.


Altered state theories of hypnosis posit that a qualitatively distinct state of mental processing, which emerges in those with high hypnotic susceptibility following a hypnotic induction, enables the generation of anomalous experiences in response to specific hypnotic suggestions. If so then such a state should be observable as a discrete pattern of changes to functional connectivity (shared information) between brain regions following a hypnotic induction in high but not low hypnotically susceptible participants. Twenty-eight channel EEG was recorded from 12 high susceptible (highs) and 11 low susceptible (lows) participants with their eyes closed prior to and following a standard hypnotic induction. The EEG was used to provide a measure of functional connectivity using both coherence (COH) and the imaginary component of coherence (iCOH), which is insensitive to the effects of volume conduction. COH and iCOH were calculated between all electrode pairs for the frequency bands: delta (0.1-3.9 Hz), theta (4-7.9 Hz) alpha (8-12.9 Hz), beta1 (13-19.9 Hz), beta2 (20-29.9 Hz) and gamma (30-45 Hz). The results showed that there was an increase in theta iCOH from the pre-hypnosis to hypnosis condition in highs but not lows with a large proportion of significant links being focused on a central-parietal hub. There was also a decrease in beta1 iCOH from the pre-hypnosis to hypnosis condition with a focus on a fronto-central and an occipital hub that was greater in high compared to low susceptibles. There were no significant differences for COH or for spectral band amplitude in any frequency band. The results are interpreted as indicating that the hypnotic induction elicited a qualitative change in the organization of specific control systems within the brain for high as compared to low susceptible participants. This change in the functional organization of neural networks is a plausible indicator of the much theorized "hypnotic-state."


EEG; beta rhythm; coherence; functional connectivity; hypnosis; imaginary coherence; theta rhythm

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