Enhancing Implicit Learning with Posthypnotic Suggestion: An ERP Study

Can posthypnotic suggestion (PHS) enhance cognitive abilities? The authors tested behaviorally and with event-related potentials (ERP) if sequential learning (SL), the ability to learn statistical regularities, can be enhanced with PHS. Thirty adults were assessed with the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale (Form C) and an auditory SL task. Before this task, half the sample received a PHS to enhance SL, and the other half received the same suggestion under normal waking state. Response times and ERPs indicated a strong effect of PHS. Compared to the control group, PHS inverted, attenuated, or left unaffected the response time SL effect in low, medium, and high hypnotizability participants, respectively. These results suggest that PHS cannot be used to enhance SL.