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Am J Clin Hypn. 2015 Jan;57(3):285-313. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2014.978496.

Hypnosis and imaging of the living human brain.

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a McGill University , Montreal , Quebec , Canada.


Over more than two decades, studies using imaging techniques of the living human brain have begun to explore the neural correlates of hypnosis. The collective findings provide a gripping, albeit preliminary, account of the underlying neurobiological mechanisms involved in hypnotic phenomena. While substantial advances lend support to different hypotheses pertaining to hypnotic modulation of attention, control, and monitoring processes, the complex interactions among the many mediating variables largely hinder our ability to isolate robust commonalities across studies. The present account presents a critical integrative synthesis of neuroimaging studies targeting hypnosis as a function of suggestion. Specifically, hypnotic induction without task-specific suggestion is examined, as well as suggestions concerning sensation and perception, memory, and ideomotor response. The importance of carefully designed experiments is highlighted to better tease apart the neural correlates that subserve hypnotic phenomena. Moreover, converging findings intimate that hypnotic suggestions seem to induce specific neural patterns. These observations propose that suggestions may have the ability to target focal brain networks. Drawing on evidence spanning several technological modalities, neuroimaging studies of hypnosis pave the road to a more scientific understanding of a dramatic, yet largely evasive, domain of human behavior.


functional magnetic resonance imaging; hypnosis; neuroimaging; positron emission tomography

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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