Here are a selection of some of the new hypnosis research papers which have caught my eye recently.

Wyzenbeek, M., Bryant, R. A. (2012). The cognitive demands of hypnotic response. International Journal of Clincial and Experimental Hypnosis, 60 (1), in press 

Abstract: This study tests the proposal that hypnotic responding is effortless. The authors compared the responses of high and low hypnotizable participants (N = 70) in and out of hypnosis on a dual-task paradigm in which they were required to maintain hypnotic blindness during presentation of visual stimuli of varying salience intensities while simultaneously completing a secondary task. Whereas high hypnotizable participants in both hypnosis and wake conditions reported comparable levels of conviction in the hallucination suggestion, hypnotized highs performed poorer on the secondary task when the stimulus was present. Performance on the secondary task deteriorated when the visual stimulus was intensified. These findings contradict the notion that hypnotic response is not demanding on cognitive resources and suggest that increased effort is required to resolve the extent of conflict between reality and suggestion.

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Cardeña, E., Jönsson, P., Terhune, D. B., Marcusson-Clavertz, D. (2012). The neurophenomenology of neutral hypnosis. Cortex, in press

Abstract: After a hypnotic induction, medium and highly hypnotizable individuals often report spontaneous alterations in various dimensions of consciousness. Few studies investigating these experiences have controlled for the inherent demands of specific hypnotic suggestions and fewer still have considered their dynamic properties and neural correlates. We adopted a neurophenomenological approach to investigate neutral hypnosis, which involves no specific suggestion other than to go into hypnosis, with 37 individuals of high, medium, and low hypnotizability (Highs, Mediums, and Lows). Their reports of depth and spontaneous experience at baseline, following a hypnotic induction, and then after multiple rest periods were analyzed and related to EEG frequency band power and global functional connectivity. Hypnotizability was marginally associated with lower global functional connectivity during hypnosis. Perceived hypnotic depth increased substantially after the induction especially among Highs and then Mediums, but remained almost unchanged among Lows. In the sample as a whole, depth correlated moderately to strongly with power and/or power heterogeneity for the fast EEG frequencies of beta2, beta3, and gamma, but independently only among Highs. The spontaneous phenomenology of Lows referred primarily to the ongoing experiment and everyday concerns, those of Mediums to vestibular and other bodily experiences, and those of Highs to imagery and positive affect/exceptional experiences. The latter two phenomena were associated with lower global functional connectivity during hypnosis. Imagery correlated positively with gamma power heterogeneity and negatively with alpha1 power heterogeneity. Generally, the pattern of correlations for the Highs was the opposite of that for the Lows. Experienced hypnotic depth and spontaneous phenomena following a neutral hypnotic induction vary as a function of hypnotizability and are related to global functional connectivity and EEG band wave activity.

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Jensen, M. P., Gralow, J. R., Braden, A., Gertz, K. J., Fann, J. R, Syrjala, K. L. (2012). Hypnosis for symptom management in women with breast cancer: A pilot study. International Journal of Clinical and experimental hypnosis, 60 (2)

Eight women who were in treatment for breast cancer (n = 4) or breast cancer survivors (n = 4), presenting with 1 or more of 4 symptoms (chronic pain, fatigue, hot flashes, and sleep difficulties), were given 4 to 5 sessions of self-hypnosis training for symptom management. Analyses revealed (a) significant pre- to posttreatment decreases in pain intensity, fatigue, and sleep problems and (b) that pain intensity continued to decrease from posttreatment to 6-month follow-up. Although there was a slight increase in fatigue severity and sleep problems from posttreatment to 6-month follow-up, the follow-up scores did not return to pretreatment levels. The findings provide initial support for using hypnosis to manage symptoms in women who are breast cancer survivors. Clinical trials evaluating hypnosis efficacy over and above other treatments are warranted.

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