Trance stare led researchers to discover a genuine hypnotic state
October 24, 2011
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.
Researchers in psychology, psychiatry and neurology have long 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. Up to date, there has been no reliable way for determining whether a person is actually hypnotized or simply faking or simulating hypnosis.
The study focused on eye movements during the hypnotic and waking state, measured with a special eye tracker. Hypnosis induces dramatic reduction in eye movements that are beyond volitional control in healthy adults, with eyes becoming glazed and the blink rate is significantly reduced. None of the control subjects tested 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.
Figure 1. The Hypnotically Induced Stare (HIS). Subject TS-H in normal baseline state (a) and during hypnosis (b).
Citation: Kallio S, Hyo¨na¨ J, Revonsuo A, Sikka P, Nummenmaa L (2011) The Existence of a Hypnotic
State Revealed by Eye Movements. PLoS ONE 6(10):
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