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Hypnosis and learning: Pilot study on a group of students

  • Coco Marinella EMAIL logo , Ramaci Tiziana , Viola Giuseppe , Guglielmino Antonino , Giulia Di Gregorio and Buscemi Andrea



Milton Erickson was the first to introduce hypnosis as a form of therapy during the post-war period. Numerous studies have evaluated the effects of hypnosis on memory, focusing principally on post-hypnotic amnesia, post-hypnotic hypermnesia, faux memories and learning growth.

The aim of the present study was to determine if hypnosis can influence visual-spatial memory by increasing its performance and learning; to do this, we chose to utilise the Corsi Test (backward and forward).


Three hundred second-year students enrolled in the psychology faculty at the University of Catania were informed of the research and its modalities, and an e-mail was sent to inquire if they wanted to participate in the experiment.

Seventy female students took part in the research; 10 were excluded because they presented a high risk of being influenced under hypnosis.

The 60 subjects in the research sample were randomly divided into two groups: the Experimental Group and Control Group.

The protocol prescribed administration of the Corsi Test at Time 0 (start) followed by a resting phase of 30 min. The hypnotic state was subsequently introduced, and the Corsi Test was administered again.


The results of the Corsi Test for the Experimental Group showed statistically significant results (p<0.0004 and p<0.0001), while the results obtained in the Control Group did not show any significance.


These results led us to believe that hypnosis has the capacity to induce a nervous plasticity that supports learning of visual-spatial memory.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: Funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication. The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Received: 2017-05-16
Accepted: 2019-09-09
Published Online: 2019-12-05

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