Hypnosis and pain perception: An Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies

Antonio Del Casale, Stefano Ferracuti, Chiara Rapinesi, Pietro De Rossi, Gloria Angeletti, Gabriele Sani, Georgios D. Kotzalidis, Paolo Girardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and objective: Several studies reported that hypnosis can modulate pain perception and tolerance by affecting cortical and subcortical activity in brain regions involved in these processes. We conducted an Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analysis on functional neuroimaging studies of pain perception under hypnosis to identify brain activation-deactivation patterns occurring during hypnotic suggestions aiming at pain reduction, including hypnotic analgesic, pleasant, or depersonalization suggestions (HASs). Databases and data treatment: We searched the PubMed, Embase and PsycInfo databases; we included papers published in peer-reviewed journals dealing with functional neuroimaging and hypnosis-modulated pain perception. The ALE meta-analysis encompassed data from 75 healthy volunteers reported in 8 functional neuroimaging studies. Results: HASs during experimentally-induced pain compared to control conditions correlated with significant activations of the right anterior cingulate cortex (Brodmann's Area [BA] 32), left superior frontal gyrus (BA 6), and right insula, and deactivation of right midline nuclei of the thalamus. Conclusions: HASs during experimental pain impact both cortical and subcortical brain activity. The anterior cingulate, left superior frontal, and right insular cortices activation increases could induce a thalamic deactivation (top-down inhibition), which may correlate with reductions in pain intensity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physiology Paris
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 5 2014



  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Hypnoanalgesia
  • Hypnosis
  • Meta-analysis
  • Pain perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

Del Casale, A., Ferracuti, S., Rapinesi, C., De Rossi, P., Angeletti, G., Sani, G., Kotzalidis, G. D., & Girardi, P. (Accepted/In press). Hypnosis and pain perception: An Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies. Journal of Physiology Paris. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphysparis.2016.01.001