The Cold Control theory of Hypnosis Zoltán Dienes, Conscious and unconscious mental processes
1. Higher order thought theory and conscious awareness 2. Types of control 3. Cold control theory of hypnosis
Higher order thought theory of Rosenthal: a mental state is conscious if we are conscious of being in that mental state; we are conscious of being in a mental state when we have a thought that we are in that mental state; in sum, a mental state is a conscious mental state in virtue of the person having a higher order thought that they are in that mental state.
Similarly for intentions: First order mental state: “Lift the arm!” This is unconscious unless you are aware of having that intention by a second order thought: “I intend to lift my arm” This second order thought is itself unconscious, unless you are aware of it: “I think I am intending to lift my arm” This third order thought renders one introspectively aware of intending to lift one’s arm.
Norman & Shallice (1986): Supervisory Attentional System (SAS) (attention demanding, conscious control) contention scheduling: selects according to level of activation, which is determined by trigger conditions of the schema and lateral inhibition/excitation between schemata.
SAS can bias activation values and is needed for 1) planning or decision making 2) Troubleshooting 3) learning new actions 4) technically difficult actions 5) overcoming strong pre-existing response
Hierarchy of voluntary action: - Non-intentional: the lower system produces an action not set by the higher system. -Intentional: higher system sets up the lower system; when appropriate conditions are met, the schema executes the appropriate action. - absent-minded intentional action: lower system runs unmonitored, producing actions appropriate to plan. - fully executive-controlled intentional action: Higher system triggers and continuously monitors execution of action schema, over-riding when necessary.
fully executive-controlled intentional action -without HOT: unconscious performance of executive function tasks?? -fully voluntary action, i.e. performed with HOT ("I intend to perform this action") (and typically with 3rd order thought, making you aware of your intention "I know I am intending to perform this action").
Cold control theory of hypnosis: Successful response to hypnotic suggestions can be achieved by forming an intention (imperative representation in the SAS) to perform the action or cognitive activity required, without forming the higher order thoughts about intending that action that would normally accompany the reflective performance of the action.
Can hypnotic suggestions involve executive function tasks? a) Suggestion to forget the number "four": "1,2,3,5,6,.." - must be content control, but person claims ignorance of doing anything strange => no second order thought. b) Spanos, Radtke, and Dubreuil (1982): highs suggested to forget certain words in any type of task given to them produced those words at a below baseline level in a word association test. Executive control because existing associations must be suppressed. c) Amazingly: Raz et al (2002, 2003): Highs can eliminate the Stroop effect when it is suggested the words are meaningless (can occur in or out of hypnosis)
In general, virtually any arbitrary behaviour can be hypnotically suggested despite the fact that such behaviour might be novel to the person, and many hypnotic suggestions require the person ignore some salient aspect of the situation (e.g. amnesia or analgesia suggestion) => many hypnotic responses are under executive control.
Often intentions, at least those maintained over several minutes, trigger HOTs of intending. Consider Wegner’s white bear task: “Do not think of the concept of a white bear for 2 minutes!”
White bear task: Form intention “Do not produce representations of white bears!” If intentions tend to trigger HOTs, one has: “I am intending not to produce representations of white bears!” Making the concept of white bears part of a conscious mental state. To not think about the concept of white bears consciously, one needs to be able to avoid second order thoughts.
Maybe highs are good at avoiding accurate HOTs about intentions? Bowers and Woody (1996): (after hypnosis) highs could NOT think of their favourite car for 2 minutes more effectively than lows
How is the normal triggering of HOTs prevented? According to HOT theory, HOTS are just thoughts and so their occurrence will be sensitive to the same influences as other thoughts (Rosenthal, 2001). That is, consistent with the socio-cognitive approach, a HOT about intention might not occur because of Beliefs and expectations: the expectation that the act will occur involuntarily prevents HOTS of intending from occurring.
Speculation: dissociation between HOTs and first order states is brought about by expectations. Consistently: Kirsch (1985, 1991): Hypnotic experiences are the outcome of expectations . Or is there some other mechanism by which or state in which HOTs are avoided? Are there individual differences in the mechanism/extent to which expectations can determine HOTs independently of first order content?
Evidence: • General responsiveness of hypnotic subjects to demand characteristics • 2) For suggestions given with no induction, correlation between expectation of response and response = 0.53 (Braffman & Kirsch, 1999) • 3) Post-induction, expectation of number of suggestions that will be experienced correlates highly with number of hypnotic suggestions experienced, r = .64 (Council et al, 1986). • 4) Subjects pass more suggestions after an induction rather than without an induction only to the extent that they expect to (Braffman & Kirsch, 1999).
Problem with expectation being sole explanation: We can 100% expect to see our keys where we left them, but in clear viewing conditions that does not mean we see them there if they are not there. Solution: expectations need only affect higher order thoughts of intending and not first order states. Will only see keys if have the intention to imagine them, and that intention will only happen if it fits in with other intentions, plans and strategies. => Hypnotic hallucinations etc will in general be contextually appropriate
What brain region might be involved in producing hypnotic responses? Lau and Passingham 2006: Two conditions: Visual discrimination task with same level of objective performance but different probability of thinking one saw the stimulus Mid dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: ‘HOT box’ responsible for creating accurate higher order thoughts
If disrupt HOT box with rTMS => Harder to create accurate HOTs => Easier to form intentions without knowing one has => Easier to experience hypnotic suggestions??
Undergraduate projects, 2007, 2008: Edwyner Dyer, Hamish Morris (+ Sam Hutton) 24 Mediums (4- 8 on Waterloo) Five minutes 1HZ rTMS to: a) Left Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (F3 in the 10-20 system) b) Vertex In counterbalanced order Hypnotist blind to site stimulated
Suggestions: Magnetic hands (easy motor) Arm levitation (hard motor) Rigid arm (challenge) Sweet /sour taste (cognitive) Measurements: Subjective experience (0-5) Objective response (experimenter rated: 0-100%)
Objective ratings: Stimulation at left DLPFC rather than vertex: little evidence for effect on objective scores: No change in effectiveness of first order intentions to produce the movements
Subjective ratings: Stimulation at left DLPFC rather than vertex increases subjective experience overall NB: challenge suggestions behave differently?
Cold control theory gives us a handle on: • How hypnotic responses can be executive tasks • How expectations seem to have much larger effects in hypnotic rather than typical non-hypnotic contexts • Order of difficulty of hypnotic suggestions (see chapter) • Why zapping the left mid DLPFC should increase hypnotic response
Why does hypnotic behaviour exist? • It is prevalent cross-culturally • Largely associated with religious rituals and spirit possession/divine influence • If you performed actions, saw images etc that you didn’t produce => spirit must have caused them • Evolved to support religious beliefs? • Note the need for self deception – you must cause a behaviour/cognition but not know that you did so, so that it can be attributed to divine/spiritual intervention
2) Sociological functions: You can perform behaviours for which you are not responsible Lewis (1971, 2003): Spirit possession serves important functions in the possessed. E.g. Socially marginalised people can acquire the gifts necessary for the spirit to be exorcised (e.g. wife demanding more resources from husband). A person can acquire the authority of the spirit and rise to positions of political power. Very common cross culturally. Cold control would be the ideal way of fulfilling these functions as it ensures the contextual appropriateness of the relevant “involuntary” behaviours and experiences
Conclusions • Executive function requires intentions. But intentions are only conscious mental states if one is aware of having them. Executive function does not require conscious intentions. • Hypnotic responding often requires executive control, but subjects do not have relevant higher order thoughts to make the executive control conscious