Scientists are close to uncovering the secret behind the effect of hypnosis on the brain.
Neuroscientists from Stanford University have observed what happens in the human brain during the trance state during hypnosis, and revealed several zones, changes in which can cause this condition, according to an article published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
“Now we know which zones of the brain associated with the state of trance, and now we have the ability to use this knowledge in order to make someone more or less susceptible to hypnosis or enhance its effectiveness in individual cases. For example, we can help people using hypnosis to fight pain,” said David Spiegel at Stanford University (USA).
Spiegel and his colleagues found out how hypnosis works, observing changes in the activity of various parts of the brain and the fluctuations of the brain waves at six dozen volunteers, who tried to get rid of stress, pain and anxiety with the help of hypnosis.
As the scientist pointed out, today almost all of the doctors have no doubts in the therapeutic potential of hypnosis, but no one knows how and why this phenomenon works, transferring a person into the state of heightened suggestibility, allowing the psychologists to deal with a variety of disorders and negative phenomena in our psyche.
Stanford neuroscientists wondered why only 10% of the population responds well to hypnosis, and most of the inhabitants of the Earth either can hardly react to it, or are even immune to its actions. Trying to answer this question, scientists selected 30 volunteers, who were most exposed to the effect of hypnosis, and a similar number of “non-believers” in hypnosis, who did not react on hypnosis at all.
Observing the work of their brain using MRI at rest and during hypnosis, scientists have tried to find the differences in how the nervous system of “hypnotized” and “non-believers” in hypnosis reacted to the attempts of the scientists to put them in a trance.
This technique allowed Spiegel’s research group to highlight three zones of the brain, which activity and nature of the relationships with other parts of the nervous system changed dramatically in hypnosis. One of them is the back part of the anterior cingulate cortex, the neurons connecting the rear portion of the frontal cortex and the so-called islet brain and cells, connecting this part of the cortex with the so-called network of passive mode of operation of the brain (DMN).
The first zone, as the researchers noted, is responsible for rational thinking, the second group of cells for control of the body, and the third for the consciousness and the understanding that a person performs some action. In the first and third zones the level of activity during hypnosis decreased, and the second increased, and the lack of similar reactions in the brain of “non-believers” can explain why hypnosis is not working.
This fact, according to the scientists from Stanford, can be used to create “hypnomatic” devices, which will temporarily enhance a person’s responsiveness to hypnosis, affecting these regions of the brain using magnetic fields. This will help them, the neuroscientists hope, to deal with the pain and mental disorders better using hypnosis and trance.