Hypnosis and top-down regulation of consciousness

Terhune, Devin Blair. 2017. Hypnosis and top-down regulation of consciousness. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 81(A), pp. 59-74. ISSN 0149-7634 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Hypnosis is a unique form of top-down regulation in which verbal suggestions are capable of eliciting pronounced changes in a multitude of psychological phenomena. Hypnotic suggestion has been widely used both as a technique for studying basic science questions regarding human consciousness but also as a method for targeting a range of symptoms within a therapeutic context. Here we provide a synthesis of current knowledge regarding the characteristics and neurocognitive mechanisms of hypnosis. We review evidence from cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychopathology, and clinical psychology regarding the utility of hypnosis as an experimental method for modulating consciousness, as a model for studying healthy and pathological cognition, and as a therapeutic vehicle. We also highlight the relations between hypnosis and other psychological phenomena, including the broader domain of suggestion and suggestibility, and conclude by identifying the most salient challenges confronting the nascent cognitive neuroscience of hypnosis and outlining future directions for research on hypnosis and suggestion.

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Additional Information:

DBT was supported by Bial Foundation bursary344/14.


Agency; Cognitive control; Metacognition; Placebo; Suggestibility; Suggestion; Therapy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Timing, Awareness, and Suggestion Lab


2 February 2017Accepted
4 February 2017Published Online
1 October 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2017 10:46

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:24

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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