Brain and Body

The Science Behind Hypnosis and Mind-Reading

September 15, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Photo credit: Adam Dachis/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Convinced it’s a hoax? Scientific literature suggests there’s an actual neural basis behind hypnosis.

Hypnosis and science are typically viewed as polar opposites. Afterall, the career of an eccentric fellow in a purple cape cooing “You are getting sleepy” seems distinctively different to that of a researcher in a white lab coat.

However, scientific literature argues that there is, indeed, a scientific basis for hypnosis and mind-reading.

Simply stated, hypnosis is a unique state of consciousness, and there are a number of brain regions affected. As discovered in a 2016 study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, there are three hallmarks of a hypnotized brain.

RELATED: There’s Actually Scientific Basis Behind Hypnotism

First, the activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate decreases, which is a region involved in cognition and motor control.

Second, there’s an increase in connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula, which constitutes a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s happening in the body.

Finally, the connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default mode network is reduced, which likely indicates a disconnect between an individual’s actions and awareness of those actions.

Although it’s true that some people are more easily hypnotized than others, there are still actual changes that occur in the brain during a hypnotic state.

When it comes to mind-reading, as artfully stated by The Telegraph’s Olivia Goldhill, “You may believe your thoughts are intangible and inscrutable, but all mental activity is communicated via electrical impulses.”

In our increasingly digitized world, scientists continue to develop technologies that may one day enable us to communicate completely via the mind. For instance, Chinese scientists are working on a mind-controlled car, while volunteers played the game 20 Questions via mind-reading machines in a 2015 experiment.

While we wait for the science world’s mind-reading technologies to be fine-tuned, are you interested in seeing some mind-boggling human-to-human mind-reading? Meet The Sentimentalists, a pair of world renowned “mentalists,” named Mysterion and Steffi Kay.

You can explore their Facebook page for further information here.

You might also like: Scientists Discover the Brain Areas Altered During Hypnosis

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