Hypnosis is the oldest form of Western psychotherapy and a powerful evidence-based treatment for numerous disorders. Hypnotizability is variable between individuals; however, it is a stable trait throughout adulthood, suggesting that neurophysiological factors may underlie hypnotic responsiveness. One brain region of particular interest in functional neuroimaging studies of hypnotizability is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Here, we examined the relationships between the neurochemicals, GABA, and glutamate, in the ACC and hypnotizability in healthy individuals. Participants underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) session, whereby T1-weighted anatomical and MEGA-PRESS spectroscopy scans were acquired. Voxel placement over the ACC was guided by a quantitative meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of hypnosis. Hypnotizability was assessed using the Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP), and self-report questionnaires to assess absorption (TAS), dissociation (DES), and negative affect were completed. ACC GABA concentration was positively associated with HIP scores such that the higher the GABA concentration, the more hypnotizable an individual. An exploratory analysis of questionnaire subscales revealed a negative relationship between glutamate and the absorption and imaginative involvement subscale of the DES. These results provide a putative neurobiological basis for individual differences in hypnotizability and can inform our understanding of treatment response to this growing psychotherapeutic tool.
Keywords: MRI; anterior cingulate cortex; hypnosis; individual differences; magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.