Chapman University Professor Amir Raz is a former professional magician with a penchant for tricks of the mind. So it’s no surprise that he created a research project based on a magic trick.
As director of Chapman’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Brain and Behavioral Sciences, Raz has an interest in learning more about the possibilities of hypnosis. Previous research often highlights the capacity for hypnosis to suppress, remove or block certain perceptual experiences, Raz notes.
“Here, we show compelling new evidence that a hypnotic suggestion can also enhance, introduce and add novel perceptual experiences,” he says.
The trick was to take an objectively difficult visual task and make it easy by creating novel perceptual experiences. During the research project, highly hypnotized individuals did significantly better at the task than did participants who didn’t respond as well to hypnosis.
“A better understanding of hypnotic phenomena answers fundamental questions about the human mind,” says Raz, Ph.D. “Our study provides compelling evidence that hypnotic suggestion can yield a towering effect on highly suggestible individuals.”
Such systematic study of hypnotic phenomena can answer important questions about mind-body interactions and advance novel therapies in medicine, psychology and dentistry, Raz adds.
Raz partnered on the project with co-authors Mathieu Landry, Jason Da Silva Castanheira and Jérôme Sackur, Ph.D. The team’s findings were published in the journal Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science.