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Hypnosis phenomenology and the neurobiology of consciousness.

Rainville P, Price DD.

Departement de Stomatologie, Faculte de Medecine Dentaire, University of Montreal, Quebec, Centre-ville, Canada.

Recent developments in the philosophical and neurobiological studies of consciousness provide promising frameworks to investigate the neurobiology of hypnosis. A model of consciousness phenomenology is described to demonstrate that the experiential dimensions characterizing hypnosis (relaxation and mental ease, absorption, orientation and monitoring, and self-agency) reflect basic phenomenal properties of consciousness. Changes in relaxation-mental ease and absorption, produced by standard hypnotic procedures, are further associated with changes in brain activity within structures critically involved in the basic representation of the body-self and the regulation of states of consciousness. The combination of experiential and modern brain imaging methods offers a unique perspective on hypnotic phenomena and provides new observations consistent with the proposition that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness.

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