Crawford, professor of psychology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, researches the neurophysiology of hypnosis, pain control, and attention, and, more recently, the genetic determinants of hypnotizability. Her work has such a presence in the international world of hypnosis research and has made such lasting contributions that she received the 2003 Ernest R. Hilgard Award for Scientific Excellence from the International Society of Hypnosis. The award is named for a Stanford University professor who was a pioneer in hypnosis research, past president of the American Psychological Association, and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Crawford has current projects with research scientists from several countries. She is working with scientists in Israel on the genetic determinants of hypnotizability, with colleagues in Austria on emotion and laterality, and with researchers in Romania and Spain on attentional correlates of hypnotizability.
She and her colleagues in Israel, for example, have shown that there are genetic underpinnings to hypnotic susceptibility. They demonstrated a relationship between hypnotic responsiveness and a genotype that predicts performance on prefrontal executive (supervisory) cognition and working memory tasks. This finding supports Crawford's model of hypnosis that highly hypnotizable people "have a stronger attentional filtering system associated with the far fronto-limbic attentional system" than do people who are not as hypnotizable.
Crawford previously proposed that, during hypnotic analgesia, the anterior frontal cortex of the brain plays a major role in "an inhibitory feedback circuit that cooperates in the regulation of thalamocortical activities." Her work has examined the neurophysiological correlates
Contact: Sally Harris