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Am J Clin Hypn. 2015;57(3):230-253.

Brain Oscillations, Hypnosis, and Hypnotizability.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.
Department of Neurology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


In this article, we summarize the state-of-science knowledge regarding the associations between hypnosis and brain oscillations. Brain oscillations represent the combined electrical activity of neuronal assemblies, and are usually measured as specific frequencies representing slower (delta, theta, alpha) and faster (beta, gamma) oscillations. Hypnosis has been most closely linked to power in the theta band and changes in gamma activity. These oscillations are thought to play a critical role in both the recording and recall of declarative memory and emotional limbic circuits. Here we propose that it is this role that may be the mechanistic link between theta (and perhaps gamma) oscillations and hypnosis; specifically that theta oscillations may facilitate, and that changes in gamma activity observed with hypnosis may underlie, some hypnotic responses. If these hypotheses are supported, they have important implications for both understanding the effects of hypnosis, and for enhancing response to hypnotic treatments.


Brain mechanisms; hypnosis; hypnotizability; theta

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