Brain Function During Hypnosis

  • Steven Laureys
  • Pierre Maquet
  • Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville


The neural mechanisms underlying hypnosis are not well understood. Using PET we first described the distribution of regional cerebral blood flow during hypnosis. The hypnotic state relied on revivification of pleasant autobiographical memories and was compared to imaging autobiographical material in normal alertness. Hypnosis was related to the activation of a widespread set of cortical areas involving occipital, parietal, precentral, premotor, and ventrolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices. The pattern of activation during hypnosis differs from those induced in normal subjects by the simple evocation of autobiographical memories. It shares many similarities with mental imagery, from which it differs by the relative deactivation of precuneus. Second, we looked at the anti-nociceptive effects of hypnosis. Compared to the resting state, hypnosis reduced pain perception by approximately 50%. The hypnosis-induced reduction of affective and sensory responses to noxious thermal stimulation were modulated by the activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (mid-cingulate area 24a’). Finally, we assessed changes in cerebral functional connectivity related to hypnosis. Compared to normal alertness (i.e. rest and mental imagery), the hypnotic state, significantly enhanced the functional modulation between mid-cingulate cortex and a large neural network involved in sensory, affective, cognitive and behavioural aspects of nociception.


Functional Connectivity Anterior Cingulate Cortex Pain Perception Autobiographical Memory Regional Cerebral Blood Flow 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Laureys
    • 1
  • Pierre Maquet
    • 1
  • Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville
    • 2
  1. 1.Cyclotron Research Center and Department of Neurology (B30)University of Liège — Sart TilmanLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Clinic, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sart TilmanUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium

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