23 Apr

PhD Defence Suvarnalata Xanthate Duggirala

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Sonja A. Kotz, Prof. dr. David E. J. Linden

Co-supervisors: Dr. Michael Schwartze, Dr. Ana P. Pinheiro

Keywords: Voice hearing, Hallucination proneness, Sensory prediction, Attentional control, Emotion

"The role of prediction and attention in phantom voice perception"

This PhD research aimed at understanding why some people hear voices when no one is talking to them, and is rooted in theories that attempt to explain voice hearing as (i) the inability to predict the sensory consequence of self-generated speech that may lead to voice-hearing, (ii) the emotional quality of voices that may distinguish clinical from non-clinical voice-hearing, and (ii) a continuum hypothesis, which postulates that we all lie on a spectrum from low to high hallucination proneness (HP).

Participants' emotional and non-emotional voices were recorded and played back to them while their brain activity was measured. Changes in specific neurophysiological markers (e.g., the N100 suppression effect) were linked to increased proneness to experience hallucinations that showed as changes in sensory feedback processing and the control of attention allocation. These findings support the idea that hallucination proneness varies among individuals, existing on a spectrum from high to low.

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