Preconscious mechanism of hypnotically altered colors

I learned recently about very interesting work on hypnosis by finnish researchers Mika Koivisto, Svetlana Kirjanen, Antti Revonsuo and Sakari Kallio. The article "A Preconscious Neural Mechanism of Hypnotically Altered Colors: A Double Case Study" is published in journal Plos ONE and is available here.

Here is the abstract of the article:

Hypnotic suggestions may change the perceived color of objects. Given that chromatic stimulus information is processed rapidly and automatically by the visual system, how can hypnotic suggestions affect perceived colors in a seemingly immediate fashion? We studied the mechanisms of such color alterations by measuring electroencephalography in two highly suggestible participants as they perceived briefly presented visual shapes under posthypnotic color alternation suggestions such as “all the squares are blue”. One participant consistently reported seeing the suggested colors. Her reports correlated with enhanced evoked upper beta-band activity (22 Hz) 70–120 ms after stimulus in response to the shapes mentioned in the suggestion. This effect was not observed in a control condition where the participants merely tried to simulate the effects of the suggestion on behavior. The second participant neither reported color alterations nor showed the evoked beta activity, although her subjective experience and event-related potentials were changed by the suggestions. The results indicate a preconscious mechanism that first compares early visual input with a memory representation of the suggestion and consequently triggers the color alteration process in response to the objects specified by the suggestion. Conscious color experience is not purely the result of bottom-up processing but it can be modulated, at least in some individuals, by top-down factors such as hypnotic suggestions.

According to the announcement of finnish academy, the results challenge the existing theories of hypnosis. I developed for some time ago a model of hypnosis as one particular instance of remote mental interactions on basis of TGD inspired quantum theory of consciousness. Quantum entanglement between parts of separate brains, the notion of magnetic body, and TGD based view about sensory organs play key roles in the model. In TGD framework the primary qualia are at the level of sensory organs and sensory representations involve a feedback from magnetic body via brain to sensory organs in terms of dark photons so that the sensory percepts consist of standardized mental images - being more like an artworks emphasizing important features rather than a faithful representation of reality.

TGD based view about hypnosis

I attach below the abstract of the chapter appearing also as an article.

In TGD framework one can argue that hypnosis represents an example about the fact that brain is not "private property": hypnotist uses the biological body and brain of the subject as instrument. Therefore remote mental interaction is in question. This idea generalizes: if one accepts self hierarchy, one can assign to any kind of higher level structure - family, organization, species, .... - a higher level self and magnetic body carrying dark matter, and these magnetic bodies can use lower level magnetic bodies as their instruments to realize their intentions. Biological bodies would be an important level in the hierarchy, which would continue down to cellular, molecular, and perhaps to even lower levels.

This view challenges the prevailing views about brain as a sole seat of consciousness and the assumption that conscious entities assigned with brains are completely isolated. Given magnetic body can use several biological bodies although one can assign to it the one providing the sensory input - at least during wake-up state. Note however that it is easy to produce illusion that some foreign object is part of biological body.

For more than decade ago I proposed a model for so called bi-camerality based on the notion of semitrance. In semitrance the brain of subject becomes partially entangled with a higher level self - in this case the self of family or more general social group uses the biological body of member for its purposes. Higher level self gives its commands and advice interpreted by the bicameral as "God's voice". The consciousness of schizophrenic might be basically bicameral. Also hypnotic state and dream consciousness are candidates for bicameral consciousness.

In this article I develop essentially this idea but using as input the recent understanding of about TGD inspired theory of consciousness and quantum biology and end up with a proposal for a detailed mechanism for how the magnetic body hijacks some parts of the brain of the subject: prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex are argued to be the most plausible targets of hijacking. Also a mechanism explaining how the sensory hallucinations and motor actions are induced by hypnotist by inhibiting a halting mechanism preventing imagined motor actions to become real and sensory imagination to become "qualiafied".

TGD based interpretation of the findings

The findings of about hypnosis can be used also to test TGD based view about hypnosis. As the abstract concludes, color experience in not purely the result of bottom-up processing but can be modulated by top-down factors. In TGD framework this reflects the basic difference between standard neuroscience and TGD deriving from two assumptions.

  • Sensory organs are carriers of primary qualia - the phenomenal experience.
  • Brain is manufacturer of sensory and memory representations decomposing perceptive field to standardized mental images representing objects and naming them. Virtual sensory input is used to achieve this.

In the experiments the form-color correlation created by hypnotic suggestion could be in conflict with the real visual input. The other subject person sensitive to hypnosis managed to transform the real color percept to a percept consistent with the suggestion. The other subject person also sensitive to hypnotic suggestions reported that his/her eyes and brain "saw" different colors.

In TGD Universe the interpretation would be that magnetic body and brain below it in the self hierarchy imagined the correlation consistent with the suggested one in both case. The imagined color was produced by a virtual sensory input realized as dark photons propagating down from magnetic body to cortex and to the lower levels of brain. This applies to imagination in general. For the sensory imagination the propagation halts before reaching sensory organ - now retina. For hallucinations this halting does not happen. Hypnotic suggestion can prevent this halting so that imagined color transforms to a hallucinated color. This happened for the first subject in the experiments. The second subject experienced both the real color and possibly conflicting imagined color associated with the virtual sensory input halting to some higher level in brain between visual cortex and retina. Note that this serves as evidence for the notion of self hierarchy, which is a basic prediction of TGD inspired theory of consciousness.

Also a comment about time scales involved is in order. The peak in the EEG of the person, who experienced the suggested color-shape correlation appeared after an average time of T= .1 seconds from the visual input. T corresponds to 10 Hz fundamental bio-rhythm and the cronon of sensory experience. In TGD framework T characterizes the scale of causal diamond (CD) defining the spotlight of consciousness assignable also to sensory percepts. That T is also the secondary p-adic length scale assigned with electron in TGD conforms with the proposal that electron Cooper pairs play a central role in sensory perception. Primary and secondary p-adic length and time scales (the latter are macroscopic) characterizing elementary particles represents new physics predicted by TGD. R=.05 seconds corresponds to distance R= cT= 15 Mm, which is more than twice the radius of Earth equal to 6.4 Mm. Hence a signal propagating with velocity of light could travel to a layer of magnetic body with this size and back during time .1 seconds.

After having received the announcement of Finnish academy and before seeing the abstract of the article, my own guess was that the high-frequency EEG refers to 40 Hz thalamo-cortical resonance studied by Antti Revonsuo - one of the authors of the recent work. I was wrong. What Revonsuo found was that 40 Hz resonance does not serve as a correlate of mental image as conjectured by Crick and Koch but for the emergence of a new mental image. What was studied was a situation in which the subject person experienced the emergence of 3-D geometric pattern from a chaotic set of dots and lines. 40 Hz activity accompanied only the eureka period: a possible TGD inspired interpretation is that the direct eureka experience was transformed to a memory, which did not generate 40 Hz activity. The 20 Hz activity involved with the change of the perceived color to the suggested color would also correspond to similar re-organization of the perceptive field induced by virtual sensory input masking the real one. What is interesting is that 10,20,40, 80 Hz frequencies appear as resonances in EEG and that they are octaves of 10 Hz. TGD indeed strongly suggests that preferred CD scales come as octaves. Primary p-adic length scales in turn would come as half octaves.

For details see the new chapter Hypnosis as remote mental interaction of "TGD based view about living matter and remote mental interactions" or the article with the same title.