Monthly Archives: August, 2009

Power of Imagination Is More Than Just a Metaphor

We’ve heard it before: “Imagine yourself passing the exam or scoring a goal and it will happen.” We may roll our eyes and think that’s easier said than done, but in a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologists Christopher Davoli and Richard Abrams from Washington University suggest that the imagination may be more effective than we think in helping us reach our goals.

A group of students searched visual displays for specific letters (which were scattered among other letters serving as distracters) and identified them as quickly as possible by pressing a button. While performing this task, the students were asked to either imagine themselves holding the display monitor with both hands or with their hands behind their backs (it was emphasized that they were not to assume those poses, but just imagine them).

The results showed that simply imagining a posture may have effects that are similar to actually assuming the pose. A The participants spent more time searching the display when they imagined themselves holding the monitor, compared to when they imagined themselves with their hands behind their backs. The researchers suggest that the slower rate of searching indicates a more thorough analysis of items closer to the hands. Previous research has shown that we spend more time looking at items close to our hands (items close to us are usually more important than those further away), but this is the first study suggesting that merely imagining something close to our hands will cause us to pay more attention to it.

The researchers suggest these findings indicate that our “peripersonal space” (the space around our body) can be extended into a space where an imagined posture would take us. They note there may be advantages to having this ability, such as determining if an action is realistic (e.g., “Can I reach the top shelf?”) and helping us to avoid collisions. The authors conclude that the present study confirms “an idea that has long been espoused by motivational speakers, sports psychologists, and John Lennon alike: The imagination has the extraordinary capacity to shape reality.”

Released ( Apr. 15, 2009)

Journal reference:

Reaching Out With the Imagination. Psychological Science, (in press)Adapted from materials provided by Association for Psychological Science.

Association for Psychological Science (2009, April 15). Power Of Imagination Is More Than Just A Metaphor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from /releases/2009/04/090414153527.htm


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney


New Clues on How Hypnosis Works

Researchers Observe Changes in Brain Activity During Hypnosis
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 26, 2009 — University of Geneva researchers say they found in a series of experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that brain activity is different under hypnosis.

Their study is published in journal Neuron.

The study concludes that hypnosis induces a disconnection of motor commands from normal voluntary processes under the influence of brain circuits involved in executive control and self-imagery, Yann Cojan, PhD, of the Neuroscience Center and Medical School at the University of Geneva, tells WebMD in an email.

The researchers used fMRI to scan brains of 12 people who were tested on hand movement before and after hypnosis for left hand paralysis.

Despite the paralysis, neurons in the motor cortex region were still firing away in preparation for the task, Cojan tells WebMD.

He says his team confirmed “subjective reports of hypnotic phenomenon” and also that “functional connectivity is a very important process in the brain” that hypnosis is capable of modifying.

What was surprising was that the cortex appeared to be ignoring parts of the brain with which it normally communicates in controlling movement, the researchers say.

Hypnosis produced changes in areas involved in attention, and also modified connections between the brain’s motor cortex and other regions, Cojan tells WebMD.

Besides the 12 who were hypnotized, the researchers also scanned the brains of six people who had not been hypnotized but who had been told to feign hand paralysis for testing. They comprised the comparison group.

“These results suggest that hypnosis may enhance self-monitoring processes to allow internal representations generated by the suggestion to guide behavior but does not act through direct motor inhibition,” Cojan says in a news release. “These findings make an important new step toward establishing neurobiological foundations for the striking impact of hypnosis on the brain and behavior.”

In the study participants, messages weren’t sent through normal brain channels, so when hypnotized subjects were told to move their left hands, they couldn’t, Cojan says.

Hypnosis, the researchers found, induces a disconnect in normal voluntary processes involved in planning to move a body part. “Hypnosis is a very old tool in many medical domains but it is still unclear how it works,” Cojan says.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Positive Statements In The Operating Room, Like Hypnosis, Can Speed Recovery For Surgery Patients

Can comments made during surgery by your doctors, nurses, and other staff affect the outcome of your operation? Can you hear their conversations even while you’re anesthetized? The answer to both questions is an emphatic “yes,” according to Dr. Henry Bennett, Ph.D.

Dr. Bennett, a psychologist, has concluded several experiments on anesthetized patients. His findings convinced him that the operating room environment itself can help or hurt the patient, depending upon what is said there.

According to Dr. Bennett’s findings, an anesthetized patient is not “asleep.” The patient is aware of much more that even the operating room staff believes. The anesthetized state may be more like a deep state of hypnosis than it is like the “out” state we normally think of with total unconsciousness. Because of this, comments made about the patient during the surgery can have a profound effect upon the outcome of the surgery.

The last thing that a patient should hear, even in a stupor, is “This looks bad,” or “He’s not going to make it.” Instead, Dr. Bennett suggests that operation room staff always speak positively about the surgery to the patient, “as if the patient were awake.” In addition, Dr. Bennett suggest using the anesthetized state purposefully, as a vehicle to deliver even more positive suggestions, similarly as can be done in the hypnotized state. Such suggestions could be as simple a “You are doing very well;” or they could be more elaborate and specific to the surgery, such as “When the doctor introduces the new organ, it will be easily accepted by your body and will function perfectly.”

In two different studies where such positive suggestions were made to patients during surgery, there was a documented positive effect. In one case, a woman was instructed to have her body move the blood away from her back during her spinal surgery. She experienced a blood loss that was 50 per cent less than normal for this operation. In a different study a researcher gave the suggestion to hysterectomy patients that they would feel like getting up out of bed and walking around shortly after surgery. The patients receiving the suggestions ambulated sooner and had fewer complications than the test group who did not receive the suggestions.

This is reason enough to ask your doctor and his staff to monitor their “Operating Room Chatter.” But what if you want to go even further? You may not be able to convince your doctor to rattle off a list of positive statements during your operation. (His mind might be, you hope, focused on the more immediate task of performing the surgery itself.)

Nonetheless, you can still obtain the positive effects of positive statements made during surgery. Start by finding a qualified hypnotherapist. Ask the hypnotherapist to create an audiotape (CD) containing positive statements about your surgery (they hypnotherapist may have one or more such tapes ready made, or they might make one up specifically for you.) Check with your doctor before showing up in the Operating Room with your tape or CD; but since more and more patients are listening to tapes and CD’s during surgery, the doctor should not be surprised at your request.

An even better idea would be to visit the hypnotherapist one or more times prior to the surgery to pre-program the mental suggestions for positive results even more strongly. Armed with knowledge and a positive attitude, you will be ready for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
-Walt Disney

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