Hypnotic Analgesia Affects the Processing of Painful Stimuli



Publication Details

Williams, J., Croft, R. J., Ferdinand, J. & Gruzelier, J. (2010). Hypnotic Analgesia Affects the Processing of Painful Stimuli. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 38 (2), 77-90.


This experiment explored the effects of hypnotic analgesia on painful stimuli in high and low susceptible participants (N = 33). Behavioural (target detection; RTs), subjective (pain ratings) and electrophysiological (SERP) responses of high and low susceptible participants were assessed during control, standard-hypnosis and hypnotic-analgesia conditions. The behavioural and subjective data showed that suggestion of hypnotic analgesia modulated the processing of painful stimuli, particularly in high susceptible participants. In contrast there were no significant changes in electrophysiological responses to these stimuli. Results in high susceptible participants demonstrate that hypnotic analgesia provides an important strategy for modulating experimentally induced pain. They also suggest that different brain mechanisms are involved in the processing of painful stimuli under hypnotic analgesia and attentional distraction instructions and support previous research findings that the differentiation of behavioural, subjective and electrophysiological responses may be a result of a dissociation between the processing of sensory information and the cognitive evaluation of that information.

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