'It is not just letting go, hypnotism does alter the brain'

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London, Jan 12: Hypnotism produces measurable changes in the brain that suggest the effects are real and not simply people ''letting themselves go,'' a research shows.

The study conducted by a team of researchers in Israel found that parts of the brain were affected by hypnosis. However, sceptics have argued that hypnosis does not result in an altered state of consciousness , but is an exaggerated form of social compliance, where subjects suspend their critical faculties to do whatever a hypnotist asks of them. In the new study, brain scans of people that were taken following a hypnotic suggestion to forget have revealed parts of the brain really are affected, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The insights into memory suppression and recall may help understand the mechanisms underlying some forms of amnesia, along with how we suppress distressing memories or things we would rather not dwell upon, researchers claim.

In fact , the study was conducted on two groups of volunteers - those who were susceptible to hypnotic suggestions and those who were not - after they had shown a documentary depicting a day in the life of a young woman.

A week later, they placed them in a brain scanner and induced them into a hypnotic state. In this state, the scientists gave the subjects a posthypnotic suggestion to forget the movie, also giving them a reversibility cue that would restore the memory.

Once the subjects had been brought out of the hypnotic state, the researchers tested their recall, then gave them the reversibility cue and tested their recall again.

As expected, the hypnosis-susceptible group showed reduced recall of the movie, compared with the hypnosis-non-susceptible group.

Analysis of the brain scans revealed distinctive differences between the hypnosis-susceptible group and -non-susceptible group in specific brain areas.


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