Nav: Home

Obstructing the 'inner eye'

July 07, 2017

"In our project, we are looking at how the brain makes hypnotic states possible," explains Professor Wolfgang Miltner, who has been working on the phenomenon for decades. "First, we looked more closely at the processing of visual stimuli." In an experiment, they divided participants into three groups: individuals who were very suggestible, i. e. susceptible to hypnosis, individuals of average suggestibility, and a third group with low suggestibility. "While they were under hypnosis, we had them look at a screen on which we showed them various symbols, such as a circle or a triangle," explains Dr Barbara Schmidt, who conducted the experiment. "The test participants were given the task of counting a particular symbol. At the same time, they were told to imagine that there was a wooden board in front of their eyes. As a result of the suggested obstruction, the number of counting errors rose significantly." The effects were observed in all three test groups, but were strongest in those participants who were easiest to hypnotise.

In order for the researcher to observe brain activity as well, the test participants were linked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG). "When we look at the neural processes that take place in the brain while processing the symbols, we see that around 400 milliseconds after the presentation of the to-be-counted symbol, there is an extreme reduction in brain activity, although it should normally be very high," explains Schmidt. "However, a short time before this - up to 200 milliseconds after presentation of the stimulus - there are no differences to be seen." This means, therefore, that simple perception still takes place, but that deeper processing operations, such as counting, are greatly impaired. In this way, the University of Jena psychologists were able to find out how hypnosis influences specific regions of the brain while it receives a visual stimulus.

Establishing serious hypnosis Research

Further experiments are planned over the years to come. The researchers will be investigating alterations in the processing of acoustic stimuli as well as pain relief during hypnosis. "Until the 1920s, hypnosis was a standard part of medical training and it is being used again today in anaesthesia," reports Miltner. "However, there is hardly any scientific research examining the reasons why hypnosis works as an anaesthetic." Unfortunately, there is too much esoteric speculation on this topic, so that scientists working in this area frequently face scepticism. "We no longer have to show that hypnosis is effective, as that has been proven. The task is now above all to find out why and how such curious changes in perception are possible in people who are hypnotised," says Miltner. "For this reason, we wish to establish hypnosis research that is serious and reputable."
-end-
Original publication:

Schmidt B. et al. The Power of mind: Blocking visual perception by hypnosis. Scientific Reports (2017), 7: 4889, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05195-2, http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05195-2

Contact:

Professor Dr Wolfgang H. R. Miltner, Dr Barbara Schmidt
Institute of Psychology of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Am Steiger 3, 07743 Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)3641 / 945140
Email: wolfgang.miltner@uni-jena.de, schmidt.barbara@uni-jena.de

Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena

Related Brain Activity Articles:

How dopamine drives brain activity
Using a specialized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sensor that can track dopamine levels, MIT neuroscientists have discovered how dopamine released deep within the brain influences distant brain regions.
Brain activity intensity drives need for sleep
The intensity of brain activity during the day, notwithstanding how long we've been awake, appears to increase our need for sleep, according to a new UCL study in zebrafish, published in Neuron.
Do babies like yawning? Evidence from brain activity
Contagious yawning is observed in many mammals, but there is no such report in human babies.
Understanding brain activity when you name what you see
Using complex statistical methods and fast measurement techniques, researchers found how the brain network comes up with the right word and enables us to say it.
Your brain activity can be used to measure how well you understand a concept
As students learn a new concept, measuring how well they grasp it has often depended on traditional paper and pencil tests.
Altered brain activity in antisocial teenagers
Teenage girls with problematic social behavior display reduced brain activity and weaker connectivity between the brain regions implicated in emotion regulation.
Gender impacts brain activity in alcoholics
Compared to alcoholic women, alcoholic men have more diminished brain activity in areas responsible for emotional processing (limbic regions including the amygdala and hippocampus), as well as memory and social processing (cortical regions including the superior frontal and supramarginal regions) among other functions.
Light, physical activity reduces brain aging
Incremental physical activity, even at light intensity, is associated with larger brain volume and healthy brain aging.
Measuring brain activity in milliseconds possible through new research
Researchers from King's College London, Harvard and INSERM-Paris have discovered a new way to measure brain function in milliseconds using magnetic resonance elastography (MRE).
Autism: Brain activity as a biomarker
Researchers from Jülich, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and the UK have discovered specific activity patterns in the brains of people with autism.
More Brain Activity News and Brain Activity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.