Monthly Archives: November 2017

Hallucinations: It’s not what you hear but expect to hear

Hallucinations are a cue word for schizophrenia and severe mental illness. Yet, in themselves, hallucinations are neither unique to schizophrenia, nor are they uniquely related to ill people. Instead, they are common in other diseases, such as Parkinson’s, and even occur in some people without any mental illnesses. Have you ever heard your name in a place where you knew nobody could have said it? Have you ever had a creepy-crawly feeling without anything bugging you? Or have you ever thought you’ve seen someone you know at first glance, yet realised later it was someone else? Chances are high that you’ve had one of these experiences because hallucinations lie on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, people suffering from severe diseases like schizophrenia might hear vicious voices they can’t turn off, that are terrifying and aggressive, while, on the other end, there may be such common everyday misperceptions. In fact, if you regarded my very minor examples as hallucinations, we all might be susceptible to hallucinating to an extent and a recent study published in the renowned journal Science does indeed suggest that this is the case. The study led by researchers Powers, Mathys, and Corlett has looked closely at how hallucinations come to life and suggests they may be failures in how we integrate our previous knowledge with the actual perceptual input.

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