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Staff Profile

Dr Peter Naish

Visiting Academic



Dr Peter Naish has links with The Open University going back to when he first started tutoring at Psychology Summer Schools, more than thirty years ago. He then went on to become a course tutor (these days called an Associate Lecturer) and filled that role for many years and several courses. For the last fifteen years or so he was a full-time lecturer at the OU, specialising in Cognitive Psychology.

Although primarily an academic, Peter Naish has had a varied career, and immediately before becoming a member of the OU staff he had been working for the MoD, in the field of Human Factors and Ergonomics.

Since retiring, Peter has been made a Visiting Reader in Psychology at Sussex University, where he is a member of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science.


Dr Peter Naish has two first degrees, one in Physics and Chemistry, the other in Psychology. He has a doctorate, obtaining his DPhil from Oxford, in 1981.

Professional affiliations

Peter Naish is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a member of the Experimental Psychology Society, Chair of Council of the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, where he is President-Elect of the Section of Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine.

Course development and teaching

With his Cognitive background, Peter was obviously involved in the OU's Cognitive courses. He was Course Team Chair of the old D309, and then went on to chair Cognitive psychology (DD303), and its associated Exam Board. He contributed a great deal of material to that course.

He has supplied material for other courses with psychological elements, including Signals and perception: the science of the senses (SD329) and contributed to Introducing health sciences: a case study approach (SDK125), in which one of the topics he addressed was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Research interests

For some time Peter's principal interests have concerned the nature and uses of hypnosis, but he has also worked in the fields of reading and its development, and perception - particularly auditory perception.

Having recently developed a novel technique for demonstrating that highly hypnotisable people show an unusual brain asymmetry, he has gone on to employ the methodology with PTSD sufferers. Initial results imply that these patients have a pattern of brain activity that is equivalent to that of a deeply hypnotised person.

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Time Perception in Hypnosis (2011). In D. Lloyd and V Arstila (Eds.) The Perception of Time. MIT Press.

Hypnotic Hallucinations (2010). In F.E. Macpherson (Ed.) Hallucination. MIT Press.

Hypnosis and Hemispheric Asymmetry (2010), Consciousness and Cognition 19 230 - 234.

Time distortion and the nature of hypnosis and consciousness (2007). In G Jamieson (Ed.) Hypnosis and Conscious States: The Cognitive-Neuroscience Perspective. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 270-293.

Time to explain the nature of hypnosis (2006). Contemporary Hypnosis 23 1-14.

On the inevitability of finding hypnosis-simulator equivalence (2005). Contemporary Hypnosis 22 154-157.

Detecting hypnotically altered states of consciousness (2005). Contemporary Hypnosis 22 24-30.

The Production of Hypnotic Time-Distortion: Determining the Necessary Conditions (2003). Contemporary Hypnosis 20 3-15.

Hypnotic time distortion: Busy Beaver, or tardy time-keeper (2001). Contemporary Hypnosis 18 118-130.

A PIC-based flicker fusion fatigue meter (2000). Electronics World 106 686-692.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online

Other interests

Peter Naish is a keen advocate of movements that seek to bring science to wider public audiences. He is an active member of the British Science Association, for whom he gives talks and organises symposia at their annual Science Festival (he was for several years Recorder to their Psychology Section). He is also frequently invited to speak at other Science Festivals, such as Cheltenham and the Edinburgh International Festival of Science, and at the more local Cafés Scientifiques in many parts of the country.

His interest in hypnosis and its impact on memory mean that Peter is often asked to serve as an expert witness in court cases where these are issues. In this context, he is Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board to the British False Memory Society.

Peter has had many years of experience programming computers and building electronic and mechanical apparatus. He has always developed his own research equipment and software, and frequently does so for colleagues too.

Last updated: 18 March 2013