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Trance stare led researchers to discover a genuine hypnotic state

Date:
October 28, 2011
Source:
Aalto University
Summary:
Hypnosis has had a long and controversial history in psychology, psychiatry and neurology. For the past hundred years, researchers have debated whether or not hypnosis really involves an altered mental state unlike the normal wakeful condition, or whether it simply reflects a cognitive state similar to those occurring outside hypnosis.

Hypnosis has had a long and controversial history in psychology, psychiatry and neurology. For the past hundred years, researchers have debated whether or not hypnosis really involves an altered mental state unlike the normal wakeful condition, or whether it simply reflects a cognitive state similar to those occurring outside hypnosis.

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To date, there has been no reliable way for determining whether a person is actually hypnotized or simply faking or simulating hypnosis. Consequently, many researchers have considered the special, altered hypnotic state as a popular myth in psychology.

An international team of researchers from University of Skövde (Sweden), University of Turku (Finland) and Aalto University School of Science has now provided strong evidence for the existence of a genuine hypnotic state. The researchers studied the 'trance stare', a glazed look in the eyes that has often been associated with hypnosis in the popular culture but rarely studied scientifically.

The study focussed on healthy adult who is known to be highly susceptible to hypnosis, and is known to respond immediately to hypnotic suggestion. Her eye movements during hypnotic and waking state were measured with a special eye tracker. When she entered hypnosis, her eyes became glazed and her blinking date was significantly reduced. Even more importantly, hypnosis induced dramatic reduction in eye movements that are beyond volitional control in healthy adults. None of thirty tested control subjects could mimic these changes in eye movement patterns volitionally, which underlies that hypnosis does indeed involve an altered mental state which is associated with cognitive and motor changes far beyond our volitional control.

These findings have major implications for psychology and neurosciences, as they confirm the existence of a novel mental state in humans.

The findings were published on Oct. 24, 2011 in the online journal PLoS ONE.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Aalto University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sakari Kallio, Jukka Hyönä, Antti Revonsuo, Pilleriin Sikka, Lauri Nummenmaa. The Existence of a Hypnotic State Revealed by Eye Movements. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (10): e26374 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026374

Cite This Page:

Aalto University. "Trance stare led researchers to discover a genuine hypnotic state." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103302.htm>.
Aalto University. (2011, October 28). Trance stare led researchers to discover a genuine hypnotic state. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103302.htm
Aalto University. "Trance stare led researchers to discover a genuine hypnotic state." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103302.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

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Evidence for the Existence of a Hypnotic State? Key May Be in the Glazed Staring Eyes, Researchers Suggest

Oct. 25, 2011 — A multidisciplinary group of researchers from Finland and Sweden has found that the strange stare of patients under hypnosis may be a key that can eventually lead to a solution to a long debate about ... read more

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