COMT Genotype and Sensory and Sensorimotor Gating in High and Low Hypnotizable Subjects

We investigated the association between hypnotizability, COMT polymorphism, P50 suppression ratio, and prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle response (ASR) in 21 high (HH) and 19 low (LH) hypnotizable subjects. The frequency of Met/Met carriers of COMT polymorphysm was higher in HH than in LH group (33.3% versus 10.6%, p = .049). Increased ASR amplitude and latency and decreased prepulse inhibition at 120 ms lead interval were found in the HH compared to the LH group. The effect of COMT genotype on prepulse inhibition was observed in LH group only. No between-group differences in P50 measures were found. The obtained results suppose the participation of dopamine system in mechanisms of hypnotizability and different allocation of attentional resources in HH and LH subjects.

Is Primary Process Cognition a Feature of Hypnosis?

The division of cognition into primary and secondary processes is an important part of contemporary psychoanalytic metapsychology. Whereas primary processes are most characteristic of unconscious thought and loose associations, secondary processes generally govern conscious thought and logical reasoning. It has been theorized that an induction into hypnosis is accompanied by a predomination of primary process cognition over secondary process cognition. The authors hypothesized that highly hypnotizable individuals would demonstrate more primary process cognition as measured by a recently developed cognitive-perceptual task. This hypothesis was not supported. In fact, low hypnotizable participants demonstrated higher levels of primary process cognition. Exploratory analyses suggested a more specific effect: felt connectedness to the hypnotist seemed to promote secondary process cognition among low hypnotizable participants.