Getting To The Point – Wellness

Science of Hypnosis Time and time again, we hear the question, what exactly is hypnosis and is there science behind it? A brain signature of being hypnotized was first recognized in 2012 with functional MRI (fMRI), a type of MRI that showed brain . Regions of the brain connected with executive control and attention were demonstrated to be involved. More particularly, hypnotized subjects displayed greater co-activation between parts of the brain’s executive-control network (in-charge of basic cognitive functions) and the salience network (dictates which stimuli must be given attention). In their brains, these two networks reacted together. In those who were not under hypnosis, this connectivity was not observed. What drove these experiments to a higher plane is that researcher used fMRI to see which parts of brain get triggered as hypnotized subjects analyzed colors. The color sections in both left and right hemispheres were stimulated when the subjects were made to perceive colors. The researchers confirmed that hypnosis is indeed a distinct psychological state and undoubtedly not a result of playing a role.
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Another fascinating observation from these studies were the hemispheric changes between non-hypnotized and hypnotized brain. When non-hypnotized subjects were requested to point out colors from a black-and-white picture, only the right hemisphere was activated. The left hemisphere, which deals with reason and logic, only responded under hypnosis.
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Another research used positron-emission tomography (PET) to look into cerebral blood flow in hypnotized subjects. The hypnotic state was in relation to activation of many mostly left-sided cortical regions, plus a few right-sided areas. The trend of activation shared a lot of similarities with mental imagery, from which it showed differences by the relative deactivation of the precuneus (handles visuo-spatial imagery, episodic memory retrieval and self-processing operations of the brain). The trend of activation had plenty of similarities with mental imagery, from which it proved different by the relative deactivation of the precuneus, the part of the brain that takes care of the brain’s visuo-spatial imagery, episodic memory retrieval and self-processing operations. For certain scholars, hypnotized subjects simply activate to a large extent, the parts of the brain used in imagination, but don’t cause any real perceptual changes. Another functional MRI experiment shows that during hypnosis, there is controlled activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (affects learning, memory and emotions) and the visual areas of the brain. The results suggest that hypnosis influences cognitive control by limiting activity in specific brain regions. In many studies, hypnotizable subjects displayed considerably more brain activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus, which impacts behavior and emotions, in comparison to participants who were not hypnotized. The anterior cingulate gyrus reacts errors and assesses emotional results. Prefrontal cortex is linked to higher level cognitive processing and behavior. Comparison of findings from multiple studies also indicates quite contradictory results. Many regions of the brain seem to respond in different experiments. This may be connected to various experimental techniques, both when it comes to equipment and hypnotic approach used by experimenters.

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