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How Hypnosis Alters Brain Activity – Top University Study.


Expert psychiatrists in the U.S. have shown that the effects of hypnosis can be measured scientifically (ie empirically measured).

A researcher from Stanford University in the United States, David Spiegel, took neuro-images (pictures of brain activity produced from brain scans) of individuals who had been hypnotized in an experiment which analyzed the effects of hypnosis on the physical brain.

In the experiment, the hypnotized individuals (who were all volunteers) were instructed by the experimenter to gaze at various objects. The objects were black and white ; however, the volunteers who had been hypnotized were given the hypnotic suggestion that the black and white objects they were gazing at were coloured (or ‘colored’, to use the American spelling of the word!)

Whilst the individuals were looking at the objects, having been given this hypnotic suggestion, the researchers took scans of their brain activity in order to produce the vital neuro-images which would show what was going on physically in their brains. The neuro-images (or brain scans) revealed that the areas of the brain which registered and processed colour (or color) were activated and had increased blood flow. In other words, the effect of the hypnotic suggestion on the volunteers’ brains led to them ‘seeing’ colours/colors even though the objects were only black and white. It can be inferred from this that hypnotic suggestion can literally change how the brain works.

Daniel Spiegel, the lead researcher in this impressive study, said :

‘This is scientific evidence that something happens in the brain when people are hypnotized that does not happen under normal circumstances…there are tremendous medical implications for people being able to use hypnosis for such things as managing their own pain and anxiety…

hypnosis neuro-imaging

Effect of hypnosis on brain is shown in this neuro-image


David Hosier BSc Hons ; MSc ; PGDE(FAHE).