Hypnotherapy makes ‘real’ changes to the brain


Monday 16th November, 2009

New research from the UK has shown that hypnosis has a ‘very real’ effect on brain activity which can be picked up on scans.

An imaging study conducted by researchers at Hull University, and involving participants who had been hypnotised, showed decreased activity in the parts of the brain linked to daydreaming.

According to one psychologist, the study strengthens the theory that hypnosis ‘primes’ the brain so it can be open to suggestion.

Suggestion is a powerful tool for altering the way people think and behave and is used to help with overcoming phobias or quitting smoking.

Hypnotherapy is also increasingly being used for weight loss and has recently been recommended for NHS patients suffering IBS.

The study involved participants response to certain tasks while under hypnosis. Tasks included listening to non-existent music. In between tasks, brain activity was monitored while at rest.

Individuals were placed into two groups – one group of people deemed ‘highly suggestible’ to hypnosis and one group who did not respond to the technique.

Decreased activity in the part of the brain involved with daydreaming was noted in the ‘highly suggestible’ group suggesting that shutting off an activity leaves the brain free to concentrate on other tasks.

Study leader, and lecturer in the department of psychology, Dr William McGeown said the study showed that hypnotherapy can have positive effects on the brain.

“This shows that the changes were due to hypnosis and not just simple relaxation. “Our study shows hypnosis is real.”

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