This is why some people respond better to hypnosis than others:- New Stanford University School of Medicine research illustrates how the brains of non-hypnotizers differ from those who can.
This is why some people respond better to hypnosis than others.
The October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry published a study using functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging to show how people who cannot be hypnotized have less activity in executive control and attention areas. “There’s never been a brain signature of being hypnotized, and we’re on the verge of identifying one,” said senior author and psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor David Spiegel, MD.
- Spiegel, who runs the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, said such a development would help scientists comprehend hypnosis’ mechanics and improve its therapeutic usage.
- Spiegel thinks that 25% of his patients cannot be hypnotized, although hypnotizability is not personality-based.
- “There’s got to be something going on in the brain,” stated he.
- A trance-like condition of hypnosis increases focus and concentration.
- It has been used clinically to relieve pain, tension, anxiety, and phobias by improving brain control over sensation and behavior.
- This study provides intriguing new information about neurological capability for hypnosis, which modulates activity in focused attention brain areas.
- “Our results provide novel evidence that altered functional connectivity in [the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex] and [the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex] may underlie hypnotizability,” the team said in the publication.
- The investigation involved functional and structural MRI scans of the brains of 12 persons with high and low hypnotizability by Spiegel and his Stanford colleagues.
The researchers examined the brain’s default-mode network, used when the brain is idle, the executive-control network, which makes decisions, and the salience network, which prioritizes things. Spiegel reported that both groups exhibited an active default-mode network, but more hypnotizable participants had stronger executive-control network-salience network co-activation.
- In particular, the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an executive-control region of the brain, and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, part of the salience network and involved in attention focusing, were activated in the highly hypnotizable group.
- Those with minimal hypnotizability have little functional connection between these two brain locations.
- Spiegel was glad he and his colleagues uncovered something clear.
- “The brain is complicated, people are complicated, and it was surprising we were able to get such a clear signature,” he said.
- Spiegel also stated the study shows that cognitive style, not personality, determines hypnotizability.
- “Here we’re seeing a neural trait,” stated he.
- The authors plan to study how hypnosis affects these functional networks.
- Spiegel and his team are recruiting high- and low-hypnotizable patients for another fMRI investigation performed under hypnosis.
- The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine funds it.
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