For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Advertisements

Tag Archives: Hypnosis And Brain

How Hypnosis Alters Brain Activity – Top University Study.

childhood_trauma_effects

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

 

EXAMPLES OF HOW HYPNOSIS WORKS :

Below, I provide two, powerful examples that help to illustrate how hypnosis works :

I have written in other articles that have been published on this site about how hypnosis can help alleviate many adult psychological problems we may have connected to our experience of childhood trauma, such as anxiety, social anxiety, relationship problems feelings associated with rejection and feelings relating to having felt unloved as a child and aches and pains that have a psychosomatic basis (see below).
In this article I will briefly outline two impressive scientific experiments that demonstrate how hypnosis works and just how powerful the effects of hypnosis can be :

FIRST EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF HYPNOSIS:

The first experiment was carried out by the researcher of hypnotic phenomenon, Ernest Hilgard, and relates to how people’s perception of pain can be altered.

The experiment involved participants placing their arm in a container filled with ice cold water.

The participants were split into 2 groups as follows:

GROUP 1: These participants had been hypnotized to increase their pain tolerance threshold.

GROUP 2: These participants formed the ‘control’ group (i.e. they had received no hypnosis to help them to withstand pain).

RESULTS OF EXPERIMENT:

It was found that the participants in group 1 (who had received hypnosis) were able to keep their arms submerged in the ice cold water for a significantly longer time period than those in group 2 (who had received no such hypnosis).

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THESE FINDINGS:

Due to the power of hypnosis to lower our perception of pain, hypnotherapy can be very effectively used, for example, to:

– reduce dental pain

– reduce the pain experienced during childbirth

– help alleviate chronic pain conditions (such as arthritis)

SECOND EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF HYPNOSIS:

The second experiment of interest involved an examination of how our beliefs can affect our bodily responses in extremely surprising ways.

The experiment focused upon individuals who were allergic to a certain kind of plant leaf. Under hypnosis they were given the posthypnotic suggestion that a leaf the experimenter was shortly going to rub on their hand was from the plant to which they were allergic.

In fact, though, this was intended deception; the leaf was completely harmless to them.

However, when this harmless leaf was rubbed on the back of their hands, because of the posthypnotic suggestion they actually developed an allergic reaction to it in the form of a rash, just as they would have done had the leaf been of the type to which they were actually were allergic.

THE POWER OF THE MIND-BODY CONNECTIION :

Both these experiments, and the applications of hypnotherapy also detailed above, serve to indicate the power of the mind-body connection, and how hypnosis is able to enhance its effect.

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

 

 

Advertisements

What Neuroimaging Tells Us About Hypnosis.

hypnosis and neuroimaging

childhood_trauma_effects

Hypnosis And Neuroimaging :

Neuroimaging refers to a technique of examining which areas of the brain are active at any one time and can tell us something about how hypnosis works it involves the use of very expensive equipment which can display images of brain activity when the brain is involved with various tasks. I will start off by looking at neuroimaging in relation to the brain’s experience of pain.

NEUROIMAGING AND THE EXPERIENCE OF PAIN:

A study by Rainville et al (1997), using a brain imaging technique, showed that when a HYPNOTIZED subject was given the HYPNOTIC SUGGESTION THAT HE WOULD EXPERIENCE PAIN (ie he wasn’t exposed to a real painful stimulus), the degree of activity in a brain regions associated with the experience of real pain (SOMATOSENSORY CORTICAL AREAS) could be increased and decreased by the experimenter making the suggestions that the subject was experiencing more or less pain respectively.

Another study, by Derbyshire et al (2004), again using NEUROIMAGING, found that subjects given the hypnotic suggestion that they were experiencing pain showed a similar response in brain acivity. However, those subjects merely instructed to IMAGINE PAIN (WITHOUT HYPNOSIS) did NOT display the activity.

hypnosis and neuroimaging

These studies suggest that, under hypnosis, without the application of a real painful stimulus, subjects can be caused to experience pain by the hypnotic suggestion that they will experience it. It seems, too, hypnosis is having a real effect, as merely telling the subject to imagine pain (without use of hypnosis, does not have the same effect).

It seems as if, according to such studies, effects of hypnotic suggestion are GENUINE, not only at the subjective level, but also in as far as they have been shown to EFFECT BRAIN FUNCTION IN A MANNER WHICH SHOWS UP VIA NEUROIMAGING: it appears that hypnotically suggested experiences CAN CAUSE SIMILAR BRAIN ACTIVITY PATTERNS TO THOSE WHICH WOULD BE CAUSED IF THE EXPERIENCE WERE REAL.

POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS:

If hypnotically suggested experiences have a similar effect on the brain as real ones, there follow implications for treatment of conditions that make use of exposure therapy, such as phobias (ie the person suffering from the phobia could be given the hypnotic suggestion that s/he was exposed to the feared object as part of the DESENSITIZATION PROCESS; that is, getting used to the object feared so that the fear it induces gradually diminishes over time.

A caveat, however, is that  studies of brain imaging in relation to hypnosis have not given consistent results; more studies into this area of research need to be conducted.

NEUROIMAGING, HYPNOSIS AND MOOD:

Marquet et al (1999), using a neuroimaging technique, discovered that subjects given the instruction, under hypnosis, to re-experience pleasant memories from their own lives showed significantly more activation in related brain regions (eg the PREFRONTAL CORTEX and OCCIPITAL LOBE) than when they they were merely instructed to imagine the same events (not under hypnosis); again, this suggests that the HYPNOTIC EFFECT IS A REAL ONE, with real, OBSERVERABLE effects on brain activity. Again, however, a lot more research needs to be conducted in order to clarify the relationship between hypnosis and its effect upon brain activity.

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