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Hypnotic Trance Increases Power of Motor Imagery for Rehab and Sports

20 Apr

The ability to mentally imagine the performance of movements is used in sports training and in physiotherapy, as a tool to enhance motor learning and rehabilitation. 

It is been assumed that motor imagery activates the same brain areas as actual movement, and this is partially correct.  Real life movement activates the left medial frontal areas (preSMA/SMA), prefrontal- and frontal areas, putamen and inferior parietal areas.

Motor imagery activates the left middle frontal cortex, precuneus, and posterior cingulate.  But when motor imagery is used under hypnotic trance, there is extra-activation in the left thalamus, and the regional beta indices were highly correlated among the areas of the cortical-subcortical motor network.

This study supports the notion that hypnotic trance enhances the impact of motor imagery by modulating the gating function of the thalamus.

Citation: Müller K, Bacht K, Prochnow D, Schramm S, Seitz RJ. Activation of thalamus in motor imagery results from gating by hypnosis. Neuroimage. 2013 Feb 1;66: pages 361-7.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award