Working memory impairment is prevalent in brain-injured patients, and current treatment options are limited. However, a small research study conducted at Aarhus University in Denmark showed promising results worthy of more attention. The results supported the hypothesis that targeted hypnotic suggestion has a positive and long-lasting effect on working memory performance.

In this randomized controlled trial involving 52 participants who had sustained acquired brain injury at least a year previously, it was shown that working memory performance could be effectively restored by suggesting to hypnotized patients that they have regained their pre-injury level of working memory functioning.

Following four 1-hour sessions, 27 patients had a medium-sized improvement relative to 22 active controls and a very large improvement relative to 19 passive controls. This was a long-term effect as revealed by no deterioration following a 6.7-week no-contact period. The active control group was crossed over to the working memory suggestion to control for participant-specific effects and showed superior improvement. By the end of the study, both groups reached a performance level at or above the healthy population mean. The researchers concluded that, if framed correctly, hypnotic suggestion can effectively improve working memory following acquired brain injury. The speed and consistency with which this improvement occurred indicate that there may be a residual capacity for normal information processing in the injured brain.

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Note: Hypnotic Suggestion is not an alternative treatment currently endorsed by the BART Foundation. This is due to the limited number of research trials. However, Hypnotic Suggestion therapy is a treatment Bart tried with noticeable positive results. Please contact us if you’d like more information.