Hypnosis is more than just a party trick, it measurably changes how the brain works, says a UK researcher.


Hypnosis significantly affects the activity in a part of the brain responsible for detecting and responding to errors, says John Gruzelier, a psychologist at Imperial College in London. Using functional brain imaging, he also found that hypnosis affects an area that controls higher level executive functions.



“This explains why, under hypnosis, people can do outrageous things that ordinarily they wouldn’t dream of doing,” says Gruzelier, who presented his study at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, UK.



The finding is one of the first to indicate a biological mechanism underpinning the experience of hypnosis. Gruzelier hopes it will also benefit emerging research showing, for example, that hypnosis can help cancer patients deal with painful treatments.



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