The neurochemistry of hypnotic suggestion

Am J Clin Hypn. 2021 Apr;63(4):355-371. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2020.1865869.


A diverse array of studies has been devoted to understanding the neurochemical systems supporting responsiveness to hypnotic suggestions, with implications for experimental and clinical applications of hypnosis. However, this body of research has only rarely been integrated and critically evaluated and the prospects for the reliable pharmacological manipulation of hypnotic suggestibility remain poorly understood. Here we draw on pharmacological, genotyping, neuroimaging, and electrophysiological research to synthesize current knowledge regarding the potential role of multiple widely-studied neurochemicals in response to suggestion. Although we reveal multiple limitations with this body of evidence, we identify converging results implicating different neurochemical systems in response to hypnotic suggestion. We conclude by assessing the extent to which different results align or diverge and outline multiple avenues for future research. Elucidating the neurochemical systems underlying response to suggestion has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of suggestion.

Keywords: Dopamine; GABA; NMDA; glutamate; oxytocin; serotonin.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Neurochemistry*
  • Suggestion


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives