Researchers from the University of Geneva have been looking into the neuroscience of hypnosis. The participants in their study were asked to make a hand movement in response to a cue, then, depending on what signal they heard either make the movement or keep still. Some of the participants were told they could not move their left hand while others were hypnotized into believing it was paralysed. The researchers found that hypnosis produced changes in the prefrontal and parietal areas involved in attention and in the connections between the motor cortex and other parts of the brain. Hypnosis was also associated with an enhanced activation of the precuneus, a brain region involved in memory and self-imagery. The researchers concluded that hypnosis worked by altering people's self-imagery so that they genuinely thought they were hypnotized rather than by affecting their motor circuits and their ability to move.
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