Asymmetric Tactile Foot Stimulation: How Postural Studies May Suggest New Views of Hypnotizability

Earlier studies have shown hypnotizability-related postural effects of visual suppression and of leg and neck proprioceptive alteration. This study completes this investigation by demonstrating the postural effects of asymmetric tactile foot stimulation in standing participants with different hypnotizability scores. During this stimulation, body sway changed in medium-to-high more than in low-to-medium hypnotizable participants. Findings support the view that high hypnotizability is associated with higher vulnerability of posture to sensory alteration; together with earlier results, they suggest a role of the cerebellum in the observed hypnotizability-related differences and prompt investigation of cerebral structures and factors potentially responsible for both the cognitive and physiological aspects of hypnotizability.

Stabilizing Posture Through Imagery

In the general population, suppression of vision modulates body sway by increasing the center of pressure (CoP) velocity, while a light fingertip touch reduces the area of the CoP displacement in blindfolded subjects. This study assessed whether imagined fixation and fingertip touch differentially stabilize posture in subjects with high (highs) and low (lows) hypnotizability. Visual and tactile imageries were ineffective in lows. In highs, the effects of visual imagery could not be evaluated because the real information was ineffective; real tactile stimulation was effective only on velocity, but the imagery effects could not be definitely assessed owing to low effect size. The highs’ larger variability could account for this and represents the most important finding.