Pain Perception and Hypnosis: Findings From Recent Functional Neuroimaging Studies

Hypnosis modulates pain perception and tolerance by affecting cortical and subcortical activity in brain regions involved in these processes. By reviewing functional neuroimaging studies focusing on pain perception under hypnosis, the authors aimed to identify brain activation-deactivation patterns occurring in hypnosis-modulated pain conditions. Different changes in brain functionality occurred throughout all components of the pain network and other brain areas. The anterior cingulate cortex appears to be central in modulating pain circuitry activity under hypnosis. Most studies also showed that the neural functions of the prefrontal, insular, and somatosensory cortices are consistently modified during hypnosis-modulated pain conditions. Functional neuroimaging studies support the clinical use of hypnosis in the management of pain conditions.