Invited Symposium: Neural Bases of Hypnosis


Hypnotic dissociation of pain dimensions

Cerebral correlates of pain modulation

Hypnotic relaxation and suggestions




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Brain Imaging Studies of the Hypnotic Modulation of Pain Sensation and Pain Affect

Rainville, P. (Department of Neurology, University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, USA)

Contact Person: Pierre Rainville (pierre-rainville@uiowa.edu)


The experience of pain includes sensory (e.g. intensity) and affective-motivational determinants (e.g. unpleasantness). Two positron emission tomography studies were designed to dissociate these aspects of pain using hypnosis. The typical pattern of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) increase in the somatosensory cortices S1 and S2, the insula, and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was replicated using tonic heat pain tests in normal subjects. During hypnosis, suggestions to modulate pain affect produced specific changes in subjective pain unpleasantness and ACC activity. In contrast, suggestions directed at the sensory-intensity of pain produced a modulation primarily in subjective pain intensity and S1 activity. These results demonstrate a partial segregation of cortical structures involved in pain affect and pain sensation, and indicate that hypnotic suggestions modulated the activity in cortical structures underlying normal perception. Additional analyses of rCBF changes associated with hypnotic induction showed reliable increases in bilateral occipital and lateral frontal cortices and decreases in parietal cortices, independent of pain. In contrast, suggestions for pain modulation produced widespread increases in frontal (left > right) and parietal cortices. The patterns of activation associated with hypnotic induction and suggestions underlie the multiple cognitive processes involved in these distinct aspects of hypnotic interventions.

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Presentation Number SArainville0419
Keywords: hypnosis, pain, PET, cerebral cortex, suggestion

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Rainville, P.; (1998). Brain Imaging Studies of the Hypnotic Modulation of Pain Sensation and Pain Affect. Presented at INABIS '98 - 5th Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada, Dec 7-16th. Invited Symposium. Available at URL http://www.mcmaster.ca/inabis98/woody/rainville0419/index.html
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright