Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hypnosis and the Brain

Hypnosis and the Brain,
Hypnosis and the Brain,
One is a trance-state,
The other's ...a brain.

` I have here an article from Nature on an example of how hypnosis causes physical, neurological changes, not just mental changes.
` I just thought of something, though, before I proceed:

` How many of you know what hypnosis is? Some people actually don't accept that it exists (through some kind of pseudo-skepticism), while bunches more think more along the lines of my psychotic, paranoid Dad, Jerry, who used to warn me during my childhood:
` "Don't ever get hypnotized! If a man hypnotizes you, he can program you to have sex with him and make you give him all your money, and you won't remember a thing!"

` Uh, no.

` Hypnotism is where your mind is in a heightened state of awareness, similar to normal consciousness, while your body is (usually) in a relaxed state (though it can occur while riding on an exercise bike!). You have perfectly normal memory and free will; you can 'snap out of' the state on your own, and if someone tries to ask you to do something against your will, your own disagreement alone can 'un-hypnotize' you.

` I've been through it myself several times in my life, mostly all by myself, though. One time when I was a teenager, someone was being hypnotized on television and in about three seconds I was in a trance. I was surprised I could do it so fast!
` My main comments are that it feels pretty nice! The best thing is that it can't cause brain damage.

` What is remarkable about hypnosis is that you are in a 'suggestible' state. For example, if you cooperate with someone who tells you that there is a fly buzzing around your ear, you may literally hear it. But only if you
agree to believe that beforehand.

` And it turns out that the effects are not 'all in your head.'

"Words can form suggestions, and suggestions can have very, very strong effects on neurological activity," says Amir Raz at Weil Medical College of Cornell University.

'S true!
The article by Roxanne Khamsi entitled; The Power of Suggestion Lingers goes on...

To study this effect, Raz used 16 volunteers, eight of whom were easily hypnotizable. These people would later be asked to tackle a mental challenge called the Stroop test, in which readers must name the colour in which a word is written. This is particularly tricky when the word is itself the name of a different colour. Participants should say 'blue'. for example, when the word 'red' appears in blue ink.

` In the hypnosis sessions, which lasted on average 25 minutes, Raz and his colleagues told the volunteers that when they later heard a cue, such as a coughing sound, they would see the printed words as gibberish and only be able to focus on the link. Researchers then brought them out of their trance state, and 10 minutes later asked them to take the Stroop test while in a brain scanner.

` Ah, so apparently, the idea is that hypnosis can 'focus' you in some recordable way...

` The subjects who were suggestible to hypnosis completed the Stroop task 10% faster than their counterparts after this cue. Their brain scans showed that their anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain involved in planning and conflict resolution, had less activity compared with the non-hypnotized subjects. "Their anterior cingulate cortices were very quiet," says Raz.

` Ah-hah! The hypnosis actually suppressed activity in part of the brain!

` Raz says the images help to prove that post-hypnotic suggestions have a real biological effect. "This was not social compliance, this was actually happening at the brain level," he says. It is unclear from this study whether hypnotic suggestion could help people with other tasks that require a different type of concentration.

` That would be very useful!

` "Science is finally catching up with what we have known but lacked the technology to prove," says Darlene Treese, president of the American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association.
` Raz speculates that hypnosis might not be strictly neccesary to implant instructions in the minds of very susceptible people. Perhaps making repeated suggestions to them even when they're not hypnotized might have the same effects on their brain, he says.

` Interesting... I wonder if I can make myself learn better? Give myself a longer attention span? That would be oh so beautimus.

Re: Hypnosis and the Brain

:) i like ur stories. :)
maybe you just keep this site as your blog.

turkishchic | 03/07/2005, 03:20

Re: Hypnosis and the Brain

I once heard a talk by this Dr. Raz at NYU. He is really nice and very smart. If you have a chance, I recommend listening to him. He is an amazing speaker and a very cool guy.

Lewis | 10/07/2005, 17:57


vkk1_hypno said...

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S E E Quine said...

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