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The effect of arousal on auditory threat detection and the relationship to auditory hallucinations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rob DudleyORCiD, Dr Guy Dodgson


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Background and objectives A recent model of a subtype of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) has proposed such experiences may result from increased arousal altering auditory threat perception. Methods This study considered this theory using undergraduate students who undertook a new experimental paradigm, the Auditory Threat Discrimination Task (ATDT). This examined the effects of arousal on auditory threat perception (Study 1), and its relation to hallucination-proneness (Study 2). Results Study 1 (n = 66) found evidence that the high, as compared to low-arousal condition, was associated with a higher level of accurate and false threat detection (as measured by both number of hits and false-alarms). Study 2 addressed some methodological limitations of Study 1 and also found that the high as compared to low-arousal condition, was associated with a higher level of threat detection. Study 2 also found that high hallucination prone participants (n = 20) reported a higher level of perceived threat (as measured by both number of hits and false-alarms), compared to low hallucination prone participants (n = 20). Limitations Overall limitations of the work included use of a non-clinical group. Also the increased arousal induced by the experiment was modest and may not fully represent the processes in operation in clinical participants. Conclusions These findings provide some initial evidence that auditory threat detection increases under conditions of arousal, and are consistent with the proposal that some AVHs may result from hypervigilance to auditory threat. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dudley R, Dodgson G, Sarll G, Halhead R, Bolas H, McCarthy-Jones S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry

Year: 2014

Volume: 45

Issue: 3

Pages: 311-318

Print publication date: 01/09/2014

Online publication date: 14/02/2014

Acceptance date: 04/02/2014

ISSN (print): 0005-7916

ISSN (electronic): 1873-7943

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2014.02.002

PubMed id: 24632145


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