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Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of Hypnosis and Mindfulness Meditation

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
David Spiegel, Stanford University Identifier:
First received: June 1, 2010
Last updated: December 2, 2013
Last verified: December 2013
Hypnotic trance and mindfulness meditation have both been shown to have benefits for physical health. The current study seeks to determine if there are distinct patterns of brain activity that correlate with hypnotic trance, mindfulness meditation or both, and to relate these patterns to measurable markers of physical well-being. Precise neuroimaging of heightened attentional states will guide future researchers and practitioners toward more effective techniques of mind/body control.

Condition Intervention
Behavioral: Hypnosis
Behavioral: Meditation

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Observational Model: Case Control
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Resting State Functional MRI Investigation of Hypnotic Trance and Mindfulness Meditation

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Stanford University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • MRI scan: brain activity [ Time Frame: 1 hour ]

Biospecimen Retention:   Samples Without DNA

Enrollment: 102
Study Start Date: September 2009
Study Completion Date: September 2011
Primary Completion Date: September 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Our goal is to determine the functional brain networks that define and distinguish two induced states of sustained attention -- hypnosis and mindfulness -- that may be of substantial relevance to medicine.

Defining the neural underpinnings of these states would have broad implications for understanding how cognitive states emerge from functional networks, how they affect peripheral autonomic nervous system activity, and how their therapeutic efficacy can be optimized.

We propose a functional MRI study using resting state methodology to study 20-40 subjects from each of the four following groups:

  1. Highly hypnotizable subjects
  2. Minimally hypnotizable subjects
  3. Experienced mindfulness meditators
  4. Novice mindfulness meditators. The ability to be hypnotized is a stable and measurable trait that can be pre-screened and quantified. Dr. Spiegel will select subjects according to their ability to be hypnotized prior to the MRI visit (see ?recruiting? below). We will seek greatest contrast between groups by enrolling those with the highest (8-10) and lowest (0-2) scores on the Hypnotic Induction Profile. The presence of a poorly hypnotizable group allows for a control condition of those who have undergone an identical induction routine without achieving hypnotic trance. Similarly, novice meditators will serve as a control for the group experienced in mindfulness meditation.

Prior studies have shown differences in both brain activation and grey matter volume associated with longer practice of meditation (> 4 years) compared with novice meditators. As such, experienced meditators will be defined as those with a regular meditation practice of four years or longer. Novice meditators will be new practitioners who are interested in mindfulness meditation practice, and who completed a one-hour meditation training during the week before their study participation.


Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Sampling Method:   Non-Probability Sample
Study Population
Healthy subjects who score in diverse ranges on hypnotic induction profiles or who are experienced Mindfulness Meditators.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Participants must not have contraindications to the MRI exam, such as metal in the body.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Contraindications to the MRI exam, such as metal in the body.
  • Use of psychotropic medications.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01135810

United States, California
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California, United States, 94305
Sponsors and Collaborators
Stanford University
Principal Investigator: David Spiegel Stanford University
  More Information

Responsible Party: David Spiegel, Jak, Lulu Sam Willson Professor, Stanford University Identifier: NCT01135810     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: SU-05252010-6143
Study First Received: June 1, 2010
Last Updated: December 2, 2013

Keywords provided by Stanford University:
healthy subjects processed this record on March 30, 2017