Concept: Hallucinations in the sane
Hallucinations occur in both normal and clinical populations. Due to their unpredictability and complexity, the mechanisms underlying hallucinations remain largely untested. Here we show that visual hallucinations can be induced in the normal population by visual flicker, limited to an annulus that constricts content complexity to simple moving grey blobs, allowing objective mechanistic investigation. Hallucination strength peaked at ~11 Hz flicker and was dependent on cortical processing. Hallucinated motion speed increased with flicker rate, when mapped onto visual cortex it was independent of eccentricity, underwent local sensory adaptation and showed the same bistable and mnemonic dynamics as sensory perception. A neural field model with motion selectivity provides a mechanism for both hallucinations and perception. Our results demonstrate that hallucinations can be studied objectively, and they share multiple mechanisms with sensory perception. We anticipate that this assay will be critical to test theories of human consciousness and clinical models of hallucination.
Phantom vibration syndrome is a type of hallucination reported among mobile phone users in the general population. Another similar perception, phantom ringing syndrome, has not been previously described in the medical literature.
Recent research in cognitive neuroscience using virtual reality, robotic technology and brain imaging has linked self-consciousness to the processing and integration of multisensory bodily signals. This work on bodily self-consciousness has implicated the temporo-parietal, premotor and extrastriate cortex and partly originated in work on neurological patients with different disorders of bodily self-consciousness. One class of such disorders is autoscopic phenomena, which are defined as illusory own-body perceptions, during which patients experience the visual illusory reduplication of their own body in extrapersonal space. Three main forms of autoscopic phenomena have been defined. During autoscopic hallucinations, a second own body is seen without any changes in bodily self-consciousness. During out-of-body experiences, the second own body is seen from an elevated perspective and location associated with disembodiment. During heautoscopy, subjects report strong self-identification with the second own body, often associated with the experience of existing at and perceiving the world from two places at the same time. Although it has been proposed that each autoscopic phenomenon is associated with different impairments of bodily self-consciousness, past research on neurological patients and the development of experimental paradigms for the study of bodily self-consciousness has focused on out-of-body experiences and the association with temporo-parietal cortex. Here, we performed quantitative lesion analysis in the-to date-largest group of patients with autoscopic hallucination and heautoscopy and compared the location of brain damage with those of control patients suffering from complex visual hallucinations. We found that heautoscopy was associated with lesions to the left posterior insula, and that autoscopic hallucinations were associated with damage to the right occipital cortex. Autoscopic hallucination and heautoscopy were further associated with distinct symptoms and deficits. The present data suggest that the autoscopic hallucination is a visuo-somatosensory deficit implicating extrastriate cortex and is, despite the visual hallucination of the own body, not associated with major deficits in bodily self-consciousness. Based on the symptoms and deficits in patients with heautoscopy and the implication of the left posterior insula, we suggest that abnormal bodily self-consciousness during heautoscopy is caused by a breakdown of self-other discrimination regarding affective somatosensory experience due to a disintegration of visuo-somatosensory signals with emotional (and/or interoceptive) bodily signals. These brain mechanisms are distinct from those described for out-of-body experiences. The present data extend previous models of autoscopic phenomena and provide clinical evidence for the importance of emotional and interoceptive signal processing in the posterior insula in relation to bodily self-consciousness.
Recent decades have seen a surge of research interest in the phenomenon of healthy individuals who experience auditory verbal hallucinations, yet do not exhibit distress or need for care. The aims of the present systematic review are to provide a comprehensive overview of this research and examine how healthy voice-hearers may best be conceptualised in relation to the diagnostic versus ‘quasi-’ and ‘fully-dimensional’ continuum models of psychosis. A systematic literature search was conducted, resulting in a total of 398 article titles and abstracts that were scrutinised for appropriateness to the present objective. Seventy articles were identified for full-text analysis, of which 36 met criteria for inclusion. Subjective perceptual experience of voices, such as loudness or location (i.e., inside/outside head), is similar in clinical and non-clinical groups, although clinical voice-hearers have more frequent voices, more negative voice content, and an older age of onset. Groups differ significantly in beliefs about voices, control over voices, voice-related distress, and affective difficulties. Cognitive biases, reduced global functioning, and psychiatric symptoms such as delusions, appear more prevalent in healthy voice-hearers than in healthy controls, yet less than in clinical samples. Transition to mental health difficulties is increased in HVHs, yet only occurs in a minority and is predicted by previous mood problems and voice distress. Whilst healthy voice-hearers show similar brain activity during hallucinatory experiences to clinical voice-hearers, other neuroimaging measures, such as mismatch negativity, have been inconclusive. Risk factors such as familial and childhood trauma appear similar between clinical and non-clinical voice-hearers. Overall the results of the present systematic review support a continuum view rather than a diagnostic model, but cannot distinguish between ‘quasi’ and ‘fully’ dimensional models. Healthy voice-hearers may be a key resource in informing transdiagnostic approaches to research of auditory hallucinations.
Insomnia is common in people experiencing psychosis. It has been identified as a contributory cause of paranoia, but any causal relationship with hallucinations has yet to be established. We tested the hypotheses that insomnia i) has a cross-sectional association with hallucinations ii) predicts new inceptions of hallucinations and iii) that these associations remain after controlling for depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Data from the second (2000, N=8580) and third (2007, N=7403) British Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys were used to assess cross-sectional associations between insomnia and hallucinations. The 2000 dataset included an 18 month follow up of a subsample (N=2406) used to test whether insomnia predicted new inceptions of hallucinations. Insomnia was associated with hallucinations in both cross-sectional datasets. Mild sleep problems were associated with 2-3 times greater odds of reporting hallucinations, whilst chronic insomnia was associated with four times greater odds. Insomnia was also associated with increased odds of hallucinations occurring de novo over the next 18 months. These associations remained significant, although with smaller odds ratios, after controlling for depression, anxiety and paranoia. This is the first longitudinal evidence that insomnia is associated with the development of hallucinatory experiences. Effective treatment of insomnia may lessen the occurrence of hallucinations.
Hallucinations are a core diagnostic criterion for psychotic disorders and have been investigated with regard to its association with childhood trauma in first-episode psychosis samples. Research has largely focused on auditory hallucinations, while specific investigations of visual hallucinations in first-episode psychosis remain scarce.
The role that cognitive processing of a recent trauma has in the occurrence of hallucinations has not been examined longitudinally. This study investigated trauma-related cognitive predictors of hallucinations in the months following an interpersonal assault. Four weeks after treatment at an emergency department for interpersonal assault injuries, 106 participants were assessed for peri-traumatic cognitive processing, cognitive responses to trauma memories, negative beliefs about the self, Posttraumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), and hallucinatory experiences. Hallucinatory experiences were reassessed six months later. Cognitive processing during trauma (lack of self-referential processing, and dissociation), beliefs about permanent negative change, self-vulnerability, and self-blame and cognitive response styles (thought suppression, rumination, and numbing) were significant predictors of later hallucinations. The way in which trauma is processed may partly determine the occurrence of hallucinations.
Testing continuum models of psychosis: No reduction in source monitoring ability in healthy individuals prone to auditory hallucinations
- Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior
- Published almost 3 years ago
People with schizophrenia who hallucinate show impairments in reality monitoring (the ability to distinguish internally generated information from information obtained from external sources) compared to non-hallucinating patients and healthy individuals. While this may be explained at least in part by an increased externalizing bias, it remains unclear whether this impairment is specific to reality monitoring, or whether it also reflects a general deficit in the monitoring of self-generated information (internal source monitoring). Much interest has focused recently on continuum models of psychosis which argue that hallucination-proneness is distributed in clinical and non-clinical groups, but few studies have directly investigated reality monitoring and internal source monitoring abilities in healthy individuals with a proneness to hallucinations. Two experiments are presented here: the first (N = 47, with participants selected for hallucination-proneness from a larger sample of 677 adults) found no evidence of an impairment or externalizing bias on a reality monitoring task in hallucination-prone individuals; the second (N = 124) found no evidence of atypical performance on an internal source monitoring task in hallucination-prone individuals. The significance of these findings is reviewed in light of the clinical evidence and the implications for models of hallucination generation discussed.
Theoretical accounts suggest that an alteration in the brain’s learning mechanisms might lead to overhasty inferences, resulting in psychotic symptoms. Here, we sought to elucidate the suggested link between maladaptive learning and psychosis. Ninety-eight healthy individuals with varying degrees of delusional ideation and hallucinatory experiences performed a probabilistic reasoning task that allowed us to quantify overhasty inferences. Replicating previous results, we found a relationship between psychotic experiences and overhasty inferences during probabilistic reasoning. Computational modelling revealed that the behavioral data was best explained by a novel computational learning model that formalizes the adaptiveness of learning by a non-linear distortion of prediction error processing, where an increased non-linearity implies a growing resilience against learning from surprising and thus unreliable information (large prediction errors). Most importantly, a decreased adaptiveness of learning predicted delusional ideation and hallucinatory experiences. Our current findings provide a formal description of the computational mechanisms underlying overhasty inferences, thereby empirically substantiating theories that link psychosis to maladaptive learning.
Altered states of consciousness, such as psychotic or pharmacologically-induced hallucinations, provide a unique opportunity to examine the mechanisms underlying conscious perception. However, the phenomenological properties of these states are difficult to isolate experimentally from other, more general physiological and cognitive effects of psychoactive substances or psychopathological conditions. Thus, simulating phenomenological aspects of altered states in the absence of these other more general effects provides an important experimental tool for consciousness science and psychiatry. Here we describe such a tool, which we call the Hallucination Machine. It comprises a novel combination of two powerful technologies: deep convolutional neural networks (DCNNs) and panoramic videos of natural scenes, viewed immersively through a head-mounted display (panoramic VR). By doing this, we are able to simulate visual hallucinatory experiences in a biologically plausible and ecologically valid way. Two experiments illustrate potential applications of the Hallucination Machine. First, we show that the system induces visual phenomenology qualitatively similar to classical psychedelics. In a second experiment, we find that simulated hallucinations do not evoke the temporal distortion commonly associated with altered states. Overall, the Hallucination Machine offers a valuable new technique for simulating altered phenomenology without directly altering the underlying neurophysiology.