However, due to the great advances in technological innovation, scientific research into the effects of hypnosis can now make use of a completely objective method of investigation into this fascinating phenomenon, by using brain scans to study how hypnosis effects brain activity (this is also known as neuroimaging).
The great importance of these studies is difficult to over-state. Essentially, they have been able to provide evidence that the subjective effects of hypnosis reported by the hypnotized person are objectively verifiable, strongly suggesting that the the answer to the question ‘is hypnosis real?’ is a resounding ‘yes’.
Brain scanning, or neuroimaging, has been used to study the effects of hypnosis in three main broad categories of experiments. I briefly detail these below ;
1) Scans of the brain at rest versus scans of the brain in the hypnotic state
2) Scans of activity in the brain caused by hypnotic suggestion compared to scans of brain activity in response to non-hypnotic suggestions
3) Scans of brain when a person carries out a task under hypnosis compared to scans of the brain when the person carries out the same task in a non-hypnotic state
All 3 types of experiment show marked differences in brain activity between the hypnotized and non-hypnotized states.
Below is a diagram which shows how brain activity is affected by hypnosis. It comes from a scientific study of hypnosis known as ‘The Paralyzed Hand’ experiment. Details of what the experiment involved are given in the diagram, so there is no need for me to repeat them here.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).