Hypnosis is a mental state of highly focused concentration, diminished peripheral awareness, and heightened suggestibility. There are numerous techniques that experts employ for inducing such a state. Capitalizing on the power of suggestion, hypnosis is often used to help people relax, to diminish the sensation of pain, or to facilitate some desired behavioral change.
Therapists bring about hypnosis (also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion) with the help of mental imagery and soothing verbal repetition that ease the patient into a trance-like state. Once relaxed, patients’ minds are more open to transformative messages.
Not everyone is equally hypnotizable. Using brain imaging techniques, researchers have found differences in patterns of brain connectivity between those who respond to hypnotic induction and those who do not. The distinction shows up in the hypnotizable as heightened co-activation between the executive control center in the prefrontal cortex and another part of the prefrontal cortex that flags the importance, or salience, of events.