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Pavlovian conditioning–induced hallucinations result from overweighting of perceptual priors

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Science  11 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6351, pp. 596-600
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3458

Neural mechanisms for hallucinations

Pairing a stimulus in one modality (vision) with a stimulus in another (sound) can lead to task-induced hallucinations in healthy individuals. After many trials, people eventually report perceiving a nonexistent stimulus contingent on the presence of the previously paired stimulus. Powers et al. investigated how different groups of volunteers and patients respond to this conditioning paradigm. They used behavior, neuroimaging, and computational modeling to dissect the effect of perceptual priors versus sensory evidence on such induced hallucinations. People who are more prone to hear voices were more susceptible to the induced auditory hallucinations. The network of brain regions that was active during the conditioned hallucinations resembled the network observed during clinical symptom capture in individuals who hallucinate while in a brain scanner.

Science, this issue p. 596