FUNCTIONAL CHANGES IN BRAIN ACTIVITY AFTER HYPNOSIS: Neurobiological Mechanisms and Application to Patients with a Specific Phobia-Limitations and Future Directions

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. Oct-Dec 2019;67(4):449-474. doi: 10.1080/00207144.2019.1650551.


Studies of brain-plasticity changes in hypnosis using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron-emission-tomography (PET) and electroencephalography (EEG) were reviewed. The authors found evidence in those studies that hypnosis is a powerful and successful method for inhibiting the reaction of the fear circuitry structures. Limitations of the studies were critically discussed, and implications for future research were made. The authors are currently using a portable fNIRS apparatus to integrate the scanning device into real life situations in medical practice. Their aim is to disentangle the neuronal mechanisms and physiological correlates in patients with severe fear of medical treatments when directly confronted with anxiety-provoking stimuli and to assess the effects of a brief hypnosis. Drawing on evidence from several technological modalities, neuroimaging and physiological studies pave the road to a better scientific understanding of neural mechanisms of hypnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Dental Anxiety / therapy
  • Electroencephalography
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Hypnosis, Dental
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Phobic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography