Hypnotic trance and state of flow compared: a pilot neuropsychological and psychophysiological study

Davide Crivelli, Matteo Martegani

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaContributo a convegnopeer review


Hypnosis and flow are among the most studied states of consciousness. However, scientific investigations in which these states and their psychophysiological signatures are compared are still lacking. Hence, following a preliminary theoretical comparison of the two states of consciousness, in which we pointed out several similarities (i.e. concerning the basic terminology and core constituent concepts of the constructs, the way they arise and develop, involved physiological processes, and even the potential difficulties in modulating such states), we formulated an hypothesis on their relationship and tested experimentally whether and how they were similar. Therefore, we devised a pilot study aiming at investigating – from both a physiological (thanks to EEG recordings) and classical psychological (thanks to a qualitative and quantitative ad hoc self-report battery: FQ, FSS, 5D-ASC) points of view – psychophysiological correlates of the two experimental conditions and at exploring potential common features. We then induced and compared the two altered states of consciousness, namely a hypnotic state induced via a double indirect induction procedure, and a state of flow induced via a PC videogame (flOw). To increase the chances of actually making participants experience those states in the laboratory setting, we focused on a sample that already proved to be able to enter both the states we were interested in. We then opted for a group of clinical psychologists who were specializing as ericksonian psychotherapists (n= 7). There have been two data collection phases. In the first phase, we collected subjective data regarding previous experiences of hypnosis and flow proposed by the subjects, to be used as a reference. In the second phase, in the laboratory, each subject underwent both experimental conditions, and we collected both physiological and self-report subjective data regarding those experiences. Physiological data showed significant variations in the power of delta, alpha and gamma frequency bands, but only in the condition of hypnosis. The state of flow was associated to a qualitative modulation of theta power over prefrontal areas. Subjective data demonstrated that participants qualitatively recognized to be in a flow state during the relative induction condition, with the exception of only one of them. Self-report quantitative data showed that the experimental condition of hypnosis presented similar features with respect to the reference state of flow. To sum up, our main hypothesis was partially verified: while physiological data during the flow condition were less consistent, hypnosis was overall associated to the slowing of cortical rhythms, and first evidences suggested that hypnosis and flow states may be similar at least for subjective experience.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)104-105
Numero di pagine2
RivistaNeuropsychological Trends
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016
EventoXXIV Congresso Nazionale della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia - Milano
Durata: 27 ott 201629 ott 2016


  • Consciousness
  • EEG
  • Flow
  • Hypnosis
  • Neuropsychology

Fingerprint Entra nei temi di ricerca di 'Hypnotic trance and state of flow compared: a pilot neuropsychological and psychophysiological study'. Insieme formano una fingerprint unica.

Cita questo