Modulation of the heartbeat evoked cortical potential by hypnotizability and hypnosis

Hypnotizability is a psychophysiological trait measured by scales and associated with several differences, including interoceptive accuracy and the morpho-functional characteristics of interoception-related brain regions. The aim of the study was to assess whether the amplitude of the heartbeat evoked cortical potential (HEP), a correlate of interoceptive accuracy, differs in participants with low (lows) and high (highs) hypnotizability scores (assessed by the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form A) before and after the induction of hypnosis.

ECG and EEG were monitored in 16 highs and 15 lows during an experimental session, including open eyes baseline (B), closed eyes relaxation (R), hypnotic induction (IND), neutral hypnosis (NH), and post session baseline (Post). No significant difference was observed between groups and conditions in autonomic variables. The HEP amplitude was lower in highs than in lows at the right parietal site, likely due to hypnotizability related differences in the functional connection between the right insula and parietal cortex. It increased in highs and decreased in lows across the session, possibly due to the highs’ preeminently internally directed attention and to the lows’ possible disengagement from the task. Since interoception is involved in several cognitive-emotional functions, its hypnotizability related differences may contribute to the variability of experience and behavior in daily life.

Callara, A. L.,  Fontanelli, L.,  Belcari, I.,  Rho, G.,  Greco, A.,  Zelič, Ž.,  Sebastiani, L., &  Santarcangelo, E. L.(2023).  Modulation of the heartbeat evoked cortical potential by hypnotizability and hypnosis. Psychophysiology,  60, e14309. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.14309

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