Attention control and susceptibility to hypnosis

Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali, Cognitive e Quantitative, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Consciousness and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.31). 08/2009; 18(4):856-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.07.002
Source: PubMed


The present work aimed at assessing whether the interference exerted by task-irrelevant spatial information is comparable in high- and low-susceptible individuals and whether it may be eliminated by means of a specific posthypnotic suggestion. To this purpose high- and low-susceptible participants were tested using a Simon-like interference task after the administration of a suggestion aimed at preventing the processing of the irrelevant spatial information conveyed by the stimuli. The suggestion could be administered either in the absence or following a standard hypnotic induction. We showed that, outside from the hypnotic context, the Simon effect was similar in high and low-susceptible participants and it was significantly reduced following the posthypnotic suggestion in high-susceptible participants only. These results show that a specific posthypnotic suggestion can alter information processing in high-susceptible individuals and reduce the interfering effect exerted by arrow stimuli.

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    • "Theoretical models of hypnosis have traditionally emphasized the importance of attentional control processes in accounting for hypnotic phenomena and susceptibility to hypnosis. However, behavioral evidence for differential attentional functioning in highs vs lows have remained controversial (Egner et al., 2005; Rubichi et al., 2005; Iani et al., 2009), and neurophysiological models postulating a crucial involvement of the frontal lobes in mediating both hypnosis and hypnotic susceptibility (Gruzelier, 1998) are still largely speculative. A critical role of ACC has often been underscored (Egner and Raz, 2007), whereas other components of the attention control system were generally ignored. "
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    ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: Theoretical models of hypnosis have emphasized the importance of attentional processes in accounting for hypnotic phenomena but their exact nature and brain substrates remain unresolved. Individuals vary in their susceptibility to hypnosis, a variability often attributed to differences in attentional functioning such as greater ability to filter irrelevant information and inhibit prepotent responses. However, behavioral studies of attentional performance outside the hypnotic state have provided conflicting results. We used fMRI to investigate the recruitment of attentional networks during a modified flanker task in High and Low hypnotizable participants. The task was performed in a normal (no hypnotized) state. While behavioral performance did not reliably differ between groups, components of the fronto-parietal executive network implicated in monitoring (anterior cingulate cortex; ACC), adjustment (lateral prefrontal cortex; latPFC), and implementation of attentional control (intraparietal sulcus; IPS) were differently activated depending on the hypnotizability of the subjects: the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) was more recruited, whereas IPS and ACC were less recruited by High susceptible individuals compared to Low. Our results demonstrate that susceptibility to hypnosis is associated with particular executive control capabilities allowing efficient attentional focusing, and point to specific neural substrates in right prefrontal cortex. Significance statement: We demonstrated that outside hypnosis, low hypnotizable subjects recruited more parietal cortex and anterior cingulate regions during selective attention conditions suggesting a better detection and implementation of conflict. However, outside hypnosis the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) was more recruited by highly hypnotizable subjects during selective attention conditions suggesting a better control of conflict. Furthermore, in highly hypnotizable subjects this region was more connected to the default mode network suggesting a tight dialogue between internally and externally driven processes that may permit higher flexibility in attention and underlie a greater ability to dissociate.
    NeuroImage 06/2015; 117. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.076 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    • "When highly suggestible participants were asked to imagine that the target letter was brighter and that the flankers were blurred, less luminous, and further away from focus ( [37], experiment 2), no reduction in conflict resolution was observed. The same pattern of results was observed using the Simon task [36]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Here, we ask whether placebo-suggestion (without any form of hypnotic induction) can modulate the resolution of cognitive conflict. Naïve participants performed a Stroop Task while wearing an EEG cap described as a "brain wave" machine. In Experiment 1, participants were made to believe that the EEG cap would either enhance or decrease their color perception and performance on the Stroop task. In Experiment 2, participants were explicitly asked to imagine that their color perception and performance would be enhanced or decreased (non-hypnotic imaginative suggestion). We observed effects of placebo-suggestion on Stroop interference on accuracy: interference was decreased with positive suggestion and increased with negative suggestion compared to baseline. Intra-individual variability was also increased under negative suggestion compared to baseline. Compliance with the instruction to imagine a modulation of performance, on the other hand, did not influence accuracy and only had a negative impact on response latencies and on intra-individual variability, especially in the congruent condition of the Stroop Task. Taken together, these results demonstrate that expectations induced by a placebo-suggestion can modulate our ability to resolve cognitive conflict, either facilitating or impairing response accuracy depending on the suggestion's contents. Our results also demonstrate a dissociation between placebo-suggestion and non-hypnotic imaginative suggestion.
    PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e75701. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0075701 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "September 2013 | Volume 4 | Article 647 | 1 selective attention paradigms such as the Erikson Flanker task (Iani et al., 2006) and the Simon task (Iani et al., 2009). In a fully within-subjects and counterbalanced design Parris et al. (2012) showed that the effect of the suggestion on Stroop task performance is more likely when Response-Stimulus Interval (RSI) is 500 ms compared to when it is 3500 ms (equivalent to that used by Raz and colleagues in their studies). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present paper was to apply the ex-Gaussian function to data reported by Parris et al. (2012) given its utility in studies involving the Stroop task. Parris et al. showed an effect of the word blindness suggestion when Response-Stimulus Interval (RSI) was 500 ms but not when it was 3500 ms. Analysis revealed that: (1) The effect of the suggestion on interference is observed in μ, supporting converging evidence indicating the suggestion operates over response competition mechanisms; and, (2) Contrary to Parris et al. an effect of the suggestion was observed in μ when RSI was 3500 ms. The reanalysis of the data from Parris et al. (2012) supports the utility of ex-Gaussian analysis in revealing effects that might otherwise be thought of as absent. We suggest that word reading itself is not suppressed by the suggestion but instead that response conflict is dealt with more effectively.
    Frontiers in Psychology 09/2013; 4:647. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00647 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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