A team of researchers from Finland and Sweden found the first physiological evidence of hypnotic trance, having studied in detail an aspect which previously had been ignored by scientists.
Despite the long history of the study of hypnosis, scientists still have no consensus on the essence of this phenomenon. Some believe hypnosis is a particular altered state of consciousness.
Others argue that the secret of hypnosis lies in cognitive strategies and suggestions that produce mental images in the brain of a person who is in the normal waking state.
In other words, no one argues that people are more or less susceptible to suggestion, but researchers can not agree on the problem of what hypnosis is in terms of physiology: a mixed state of mind between sleep and wakefulness or a waking state during which a person behaves in a certain way due to increased motivation.
Now, it seems that scientists will have to recognize the validity of the first point of view since Finnish and Swedish scientists found the first evidence of a particular physiological condition of the body during the hypnosis sessions.
The Physiological Evidence of Hypnosis
They studied the behavior of the eyes of a person under hypnotic influence. Previously, physiologists and psychologists did not consider wide-open eyes and frozen gaze to be a reliable sign of hypnotic trance. Normally, this phenomenon is not observed in all people immersed in hypnosis.
For their experiment, the scientists chose a person who was highly susceptible to suggestion and tended to (in seconds) come out of a hypnotic state fast.
The researchers recorded the patient’s eye movement on camera and offered them a number of visual tasks (the so-called oculomotor images), which usually provoke an automatic reaction of the eye.
As a result, the scientists have recorded clear changes in both automatic and simultaneous eye movements in the volunteer under hypnosis. Moreover, volunteers of the control group who were not put under hypnotic trance did not manage to simulate such kind of eye movement at will.
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Hypnosis is not a fixed trait, like eye color. Although built-in to our basic biology it can be enhanced with practice.