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Reality monitoring performance and the role of visual imagery in visual hallucinations

Lookup NU author(s): Charlotte Aynsworth, Nazik Nemat, Daniel Collerton, David Smailes, Dr Rob DudleyORCiD


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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background Auditory Hallucinations may arise from people confusing their own inner speech with external spoken speech. People with visual hallucinations (VH) may similarly confuse vivid mental imagery with external events. This paper reports two experiments exploring confusion between internal and external visual material. Method Experiment 1 examined reality monitoring in people with psychosis; those with visual hallucinations (n = 16) and those without (n = 15). Experiment 2 used two non-clinical groups of people with high or low predisposition to VH (HVH, n = 26, LVH, n = 21). All participants completed the same reality monitoring task. Participants in Experiment 2 also completed measures of imagery. Results Psychosis patients with VH demonstrated biased reality monitoring, where they misremembered items that had been presented as words as having been presented as pictures. Patients without VH did not show this bias. In Experiment 2, the HVH group demonstrated the same bias in reality monitoring that psychosis patients with VH had shown. The LVH group did not show this bias. In addition, the HVH group reported more vivid imagery and particularly more negative imagery. Conclusions Both studies found that people with visual hallucinations or prone-ness to such experiences confused their inner visual experiences with external images. Vivid imagery was also related to proneness to VH. Hence, vivid imagery and reality monitoring confusion could be contributory factors to understanding VH.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aynsworth C, Nemat N, Collerton D, Smailes D, Dudley R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Behaviour Research and Therapy

Year: 2017

Volume: 97

Pages: 115-122

Print publication date: 01/10/2017

Online publication date: 20/07/2017

Acceptance date: 19/07/2017

ISSN (print): 0005-7967

ISSN (electronic): 1873-622X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.07.012


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