Suggested visual hallucination without hypnosis enhances activity in visual areas of the brain

William J. McGeown, Annalena Venneri, Irving Kirsch, Luca Nocetti, Kathrine Roberts, Lisa Foan, Giuliana Mazzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study investigated high and low suggestible people responding to two visual hallucination suggestions with and without a hypnotic induction. Participants in the study were asked to see color while looking at a grey image, and to see shades of grey while looking at a color image. High suggestible participants reported successful alterations in color perception in both tasks, both in and out of hypnosis, and showed a small benefit if hypnosis was induced. Low suggestible people could not perform the tasks successfully with or without the hypnotic induction. The fMRI results supported the self report data, and changes in brain activity were found in a number of visual areas. The results indicate that a hypnotic induction, although having the potential to enhance the ability of high suggestible people, is not necessary for the effective alteration of color perception by suggestion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-116
Number of pages17
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Brain imaging
  • Color
  • Hypnosis
  • Perception
  • Suggestibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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