Hypnotizability refers to the individual responsiveness to hypnosis, and literature shows that the greater the hypnotizability, the more effective the hypnotic suggestions. So far, few studies attempted to enhance hypnotizability, and only two adopted brain stimulation with magnetic pulses. In the present study, we aimed to boost hypnotizability through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). To this aim, bilateral tDCS was applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) with the target electrode providing negative current (cathodal stimulation) over the left hemisphere. Twenty-nine subjects participated in the study and they were randomly assigned to the sham or the active group in a double-blind design. The hypnotic experience was assessed before and after the stimulation through a phenomenological measure of consciousness (the PCI-HAP). The main findings revealed that a single tDCS session enhanced the hypnotic depth by 11% and reduced the volitional control by 30%, while no differences emerged in the sham group. This is the first study adopting the electrical neurostimulation to produce an alteration of hypnotizability and sense of agency, and confirmed the key-role of the DLPFC and executive control in the hypnotic phenomena. If confirmed, these findings could have relevant implications as enhanced hypnotizability could be translated into better outcomes for many hypnotic interventions.
Keywords: Hypnosis; Hypnotizability; Prefrontal cortex; Sense of agency; TDCS.
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