Skip to main content

HYPOTHESIS AND THEORY article

Front. Psychol.
Sec. Psychology for Clinical Settings
Volume 15 - 2024 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1388347
This article is part of the Research Topic Clinical Hypnosis View all 19 articles

Cognitive Simulation along with Neural Adaptation Explain Effects of Suggestions: A Novel Theoretical Framework

Provisionally accepted
  • 1 University of Münster, Münster, Germany
  • 2 Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
  • 3 Charité University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
  • 4 Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, United States
  • 5 Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China
  • 6 Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR China
  • 7 National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

    Hypnosis is an effective intervention with proven efficacy that is employed in clinical settings and for investigating various cognitive processes. Despite their practical success, no consensus exists regarding the mechanisms underlying well-established hypnotic phenomena. Here, we suggest a new framework called the Simulation-Adaptation Theory of Hypnosis (SATH). SATH expands the predictive coding framework by focusing on (a) redundancy elimination in generative models using intrinsically generated prediction errors, (b) adaptation due to amplified or prolonged neural activity, and (c) using internally generated predictions as a venue for learning new associations. The core of our treatise is that simulating proprioceptive, interoceptive, and exteroceptive signals, along with the top-down attenuation of the precision of sensory prediction errors due to neural adaptation, can explain objective and subjective hypnotic phenomena. Based on these postulations, we offer mechanistic explanations for critical categories of direct verbal suggestions, including (1) direct-ideomotor, (2) challenge ideomotor, (3) perceptual, and (4) cognitive suggestions. Notably, we argue that besides explaining objective responses, SATH accounts for the subjective effects of suggestions, i.e., the change in the sense of agency and reality. Finally, we discuss individual differences in hypnotizability and how SATH accommodates them. We believe that SATH is exhaustive and parsimonious in its scope, can explain a wide range of hypnotic phenomena without contradiction, and provides a host of testable predictions for future research.

    Keywords: Hypnotic suggestions, Hypnosis, suggestibility, cognitive simulation, Sensory adaption, Learning, predictive coding model

    Received: 19 Feb 2024; Accepted: 30 Apr 2024.

    Copyright: © 2024 Zahedi, Lynn and Sommer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

    * Correspondence: Anoushiravan Zahedi, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

    Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.