Published on: Friday, January 5, 2018

The Prefrontal Cortex and Suggestion: Hypnosis vs. Placebo Effects (2016)

Benjamin A. Parris*

Frontiers In Psychology

Suggestion has been defined as a form of communicable ideation or belief, that once accepted has the capacity to exert profound changes on a person's mood, thoughts, perceptions and behaviors (Halligan and Oakley, 2014). The prefrontal region (the region of the frontal cortex anterior to the motor areas) of the human cerebral cortex appears to play an important role in suggestion (Asp et al., 2012). Children, with still-developing prefrontal cortices, are more susceptible to suggestion (Ceci et al., 1987; Bruck and Ceci, 1995). Older adults, who experience atrophy of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) as a result of the normal processes of aging, are also more open to suggestion (Cohen and Faulkner, 1989). Damasio (1994) described how patients with damage to the PFC are more vulnerable to “snake-oil” salesmen and disreputable characters. Asp et al. (2012) showed that patients with ventromedial PFC damage were more likely to believe in misleading advertisements. The role of the frontal cortices in suggestion fits with the putative role of the prefrontal cortex in the control of thought and behavior (Miller and Cohen, 2001).

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