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Musical hallucinations, musical imagery, and earworms: A new phenomenological survey

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sukhbinder Kumar



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 The Authors Musical hallucinations (MH) account for a significant proportion of auditory hallucinations, but there is a relative lack of research into their phenomenology. In contrast, much research has focused on other forms of internally generated musical experience, such as earworms (involuntary and repetitive inner music), showing that they can vary in perceived control, repetitiveness, and in their effect on mood. We conducted a large online survey (N = 270), including 44 participants with MH, asking participants to rate imagery, earworms, or MH on several variables. MH were reported as occurring less frequently, with less controllability, less lyrical content, and lower familiarity, than other forms of inner music. MH were also less likely to be reported by participants with higher levels of musical expertise. The findings are outlined in relation to other forms of hallucinatory experience and inner music, and their implications for psychological models of hallucinations discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Moseley P, Alderson-Day B, Kumar S, Fernyhough C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Consciousness and Cognition

Year: 2018

Volume: 65

Pages: 83-94

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 01/08/2018

Acceptance date: 19/07/2018

Date deposited: 14/08/2018

ISSN (print): 1053-8100

ISSN (electronic): 1090-2376

Publisher: Academic Press Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.07.009


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