Hallucinating color is not just a great name for your indie rock band’s next record, but also something certain “highly suggestible” people have been proven to do. While gazing deep into a monochrome pattern, a group of test subjects — first under hypnosis, and then not — reported being able to see colors in the designs, colors that were not actually there. It turns out that being “highly suggestible” does not just mean that you can be easily convinced that those are not, in fact, the droids you are looking for, it also means that you may have the ability to self-hypnotize and consciously affect your perceptions.
The study, recently published in Consciousness and Cognition, took two groups of people, the normal ones and the highly suggestible ones, and had them look at the patterns under normal conditions and then again while hypnotized. Throughout the process, their brains were being monitored by our good friend the MRI. The results showed that under both conditions, hypnotized and not, these highly suggestible subjects actually exhibited changes in the area of the brain responsible for visual perception. They weren’t just lying; they were actually seeing things.
“These are very talented people,” says Professor Giuliana Mazzoni, the project’s lead researcher. ”They can change their perception and experience of the world in ways that the rest of us cannot.” Previously, results like this were thought to have only been possible when the subject was hypnotized, but these results show that isn’t always the case. Now, if you want to get into the semantics of whether or not this constitutes self-hypnosis, that’s another matter entirely. The facts here show that some people can literally alter their perception of reality, all by themselves, at will.
Hallucinating colors in and of itself isn’t that useful of a skill, but the ability to alter perception is. The thought is that such a talent is something that extends to more practical things like pain-blocking and successful hypnotherapy results. Those sound like two things I could totally get into, but the real question is: Is being able to alter your perception of reality really worth being labeled as highly suggestible?
“Yeah man, it’s cool. I just alter my perception of reality so that ‘highly suggestible’ doesn’t sound like ‘sucker’ anymore.”
(via Medical Xpress)