How Does Visually Induced Hypnosis Affect Attention

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It has been speculated that hypnosis engages primarily those higher and more anterior networks of attention, the ones that are well supplied by dopamine, including the anterior cingulate gyrus.

In this regard, hypnosis can generate a so-called obstructive visual hallucination. If "obstructive" were a word to be taken literally, it might seem to refer to an "obstruction projected out there'' that was somehow "blocking" a more distant object from being seen [Z:388-390]. However, when the whole process of hypnotic focusing becomes intensified, it heightens the person's attention on the imaginary image. Therefore, the mechanisms of this so-called obstruction are likely to be mediated by inhibitory functions of the reticular nucleus of the thalamus [Z:388-390]. This can explain why PET scans show a corresponding reduction of activity in the seemingly "blocked" area of the visual cortex, and why visual evoked potential amplitudes are also reduced.14

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