A study reveals that hypnotic suggestion can alter tactile perception.
- Our body can perceive different sensations depending on the thoughts present in our brain.
- Participants in one study had their sense of touch altered based on suggestions dictated under hypnosis.
- This experience could help to treat, for example, cases of hypersensitivity.
The human body is impressive and can adapt in different ways to the environment. According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reportsit would seem that our cerebral functioning can modify our tactile perception.
An experiment shows that people persuaded to have an index finger five times larger than in reality have an improved sense of touch.
Measurement of tactile perception under hypnosis
The research conducted on 24 participants consisted of measuring their tactile perception while they were under hypnosis. First, the subjects received the suggestion that their index finger was five times smaller than normal, then in a second step, the opposite suggestion was made, making them believe that their finger was five times larger. They took part in a total of four experiments in which their index finger was pricked by two needles far apart.
When they were tricked into believing that their index finger was five times larger than it actually was, they managed to perceive two needles. In contrast, when the suggestion was that their index finger was five times smaller, they could only feel one needle. This suggests that tactile perception can be modified by top-down cognitive influences.
Therapeutic implications and perspectives for the future
The theory that our mind is able to influence our body is well known. However, this study goes further and indicates that tactile perception can be modified by cognitive influences and hypnotic suggestions. Although the research is still experimental, it shows that hypnosis can be used to alter tactile perception. In the future, this discovery could help set up therapies for certain people, such as those with hypersensitivity or tactile perception disorders.
The field of perception and sensation remains complex, and further studies will be needed to understand how hypnosis and suggestions can affect the different parts of the brain involved in tactile perception. Nevertheless, this study showed that human perception is more flexible than previously thought.