Behavioral, neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies on hypnosis.

I propose to discuss behavioral, neuroimaging and electrophysiological
studies on hypnosis as a state, as well as hypnosis as a tool to modulate brain
responses to painful stimulations.

Studies have showed that hypnotic processes modify subjects’ self-reported internal and external
awareness as well as underlined brain networks. We also recently showed that lower and higher
electrophysiological frequencies were modified during hypnosis, specifically in the right
hemisphere. In addition, brain mechanisms involved in the modulation of pain perception under
hypnotic conditions involve cortical as well as subcortical areas including anterior cingulate and
prefrontal cortices, basal ganglia and thalami.
In addition to neuroimaging researches, we currently develop clinical studies and show benefits
of hypnosis in chronic health problems (chronic pain and oncology). Hypnosis combined with
self-care learning is associated with patients’ evolution of coping strategies from passive to
active, allowing them to reduce pain perception, emotional distress and fatigue, and improve their
global impression of treatment effectiveness. In this context, hypnosis can serve as a catalyst for a
deeper and richer quality of life.
Finally, we will also present a new way to disentangle highly hypnotizable from low
hypnotizable subjects. This new way of measurement is useful, especially in clinical research,
since it is challenging to define the level of hypnotizability of patients. Indeed, current
standardized scales of hypnotizability are 45 to 90 minutes longer, and are not easily applicable
in clinical practice.

Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse

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