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Psychiatry Res. 2015 Feb 28;231(2):151-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.11.015. Epub 2014 Dec 6.

Structural and functional correlates of hypnotic depth and suggestibility.

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School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Hull, Hull, UK.
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug Research and Child Health - Section of Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; IRCCS Fondazione Ospedale S. Camillo, Venice, Italy.


This study explores whether self-reported depth of hypnosis and hypnotic suggestibility are associated with individual differences in neuroanatomy and/or levels of functional connectivity. Twenty-nine people varying in suggestibility were recruited and underwent structural, and after a hypnotic induction, functional magnetic resonance imaging at rest. We used voxel-based morphometry to assess the correlation of grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) against the independent variables: depth of hypnosis, level of relaxation and hypnotic suggestibility. Functional networks identified with independent components analysis were regressed with the independent variables. Hypnotic depth ratings were positively correlated with GM volume in the frontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Hypnotic suggestibility was positively correlated with GM volume in the left temporal-occipital cortex. Relaxation ratings did not correlate significantly with GM volume and none of the independent variables correlated with regional WM volume measures. Self-reported deeper levels of hypnosis were associated with less connectivity within the anterior default mode network. Taken together, the results suggest that the greater GM volume in the medial frontal cortex and ACC, and lower connectivity in the DMN during hypnosis facilitate experiences of greater hypnotic depth. The patterns of results suggest that hypnotic depth and hypnotic suggestibility should not be considered synonyms.


Functional connectivity; Grey matter; Hypnosis; Susceptibility; Voxel-based morphometry; White matter

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