Mesmerizing memories: brain substrates of episodic memory suppression in posthypnotic amnesia

Neuron. 2008 Jan 10;57(1):159-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.11.022.


Two groups of participants, one susceptible to posthypnotic amnesia (PHA) and the other not, viewed a movie. A week later, they underwent hypnosis in the fMRI scanner and received a suggestion to forget the movie details after hypnosis until receiving a reversal cue. The participants were tested twice for memory for the movie and for the context in which it was shown, under the posthypnotic suggestion and after its reversal, while their brain was scanned. The PHA group showed reduced memory for movie but not for context while under suggestion. Activity in occipital, temporal, and prefrontal areas differed among the groups, and, in the PHA group, between suggestion and reversal conditions. We propose that whereas some of these regions subserve retrieval of long-term episodic memory, others are involved in inhibiting retrieval, possibly already in a preretrieval monitoring stage. Similar mechanisms may also underlie other forms of functional amnesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia / pathology*
  • Amnesia / psychology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Personality Assessment
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Suggestion


  • Oxygen