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Keywords:

  • EEG;
  • ERPs;
  • attention laterality;
  • frontal limbic cingulate

Abstract

Neuropsychophysiological evidence is reviewed testing a three-stage, top-down working model of the traditional hypnotic relaxation induction involving: (1) a thalamocortical attentional network engaging a left frontolimbic focused attention control system underpinning sensory fixation and concentration on the induction; (2) instatement of frontolimbic inhibitory systems through suggestions of tiredness at fixation and relaxation whereby anterior executive functions are suspended and directed by the induction; (3) engagement of right-sided temporoposterior functions through passive imagery and dreaming. A selectivity of action in high susceptibles was a hallmark of the studies. Increased Stroop interference coincided with maintenance of error detection and abolition of error evaluation potentials, interpreted as dissociation of cognitive and affective executive systems of the anterior cingulate. Verbal, category and design fluency tasks were dissociated with hypnosis centring on left anterior processes as seen in left lateral and medial reduced EEG connectivity. Limbic modulated electrodermal orienting responses and frontal modulated mismatch negativity waves were inhibited. Asymmetries in electrodermal and electrocortical responses to tones shifted to favour the right hemisphere, an asymmetry also seen in visual sensitivity. Haptic processing and visual sensitivity disclosed more distributed changes in medium susceptibles, while low susceptibles were characterized by poorer attentional functions at baseline and improvements through the induction. Copyright © 1998 British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis