Stanford Study on Hypnotherapy

By scanning the brains of subjects while they were hypnotized, researchers at the School of Medicine were able to see the neural changes associated with hypnosis.
 

A serious science

 

For some people, hypnosis is associated with loss of control or stage tricks. But doctors like Spiegel know it to be a serious science, revealing the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions.

 

“Hypnosis is the oldest Western form of psychotherapy, but it’s been tarred with the brush of dangling watches and purple capes,” said Spiegel, who holds the Jack, Samuel and Lulu Willson Professorship in Medicine. “In fact, it’s a very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies”.

 

First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network. “In hypnosis, you’re so absorbed that you’re not worrying about anything else,” Spiegel explained.

 

Secondly, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. He described this as a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s going on in the body.

 

Hypnosis sessions have been shown to be effective in lessening chronic pain, the pain of childbirth and other medical procedures; treating smoking addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder; and easing anxiety or phobias. 

 

The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (grant RCIAT0005733), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (grant P41EB015891), the Randolph H. Chase, M.D. Fund II, the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation and the Nissan Research Center.

Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences also supported the work.

 

The full report is available on this link: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/07/study-identifies-brain-areas-altered-during-hypnotic-trances.html