Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Obstructing the ‘inner eye’

07.07.2017

Psychologists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) aim to develop brain theory of hypnosis

Hypnosis can help people stop smoking, sleep better and even undergo dental treatment without pain. But what exactly is hypnosis and what precisely happens in the brain of a hypnotised person? These questions are currently being studied by psychologists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany), together with a colleague from the University of Trier (Germany), as part of a project funded by the German Research Foundation. The aim is to find comprehensive scientific answers to the questions, and the researchers have presented their initial findings in the current issue of the specialist journal “Scientific Reports”.


While under hypnosis, the test participants had to react on various symbols. In order to observe the brain activity as well, the test participants were linked to an EEG.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

How the brain enables hypnotic states

“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.”

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[at]uni-jena.de, schmidt.barbara[at]uni-jena.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-jena.de

Sebastian Hollstein | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes

17.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Electronic stickers to streamline large-scale 'internet of things'

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

Behavior-influencing policies are critical for mass market success of low carbon vehicles

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>