Non-clinical hallucinations and mental imagery across sensory modalities

Luke Wilson Rogers, Mma Yeebo, Daniel Collerton, Peter Moseley, Robert Dudley*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Vivid mental imagery has been proposed to increase the likelihood of experiencing hallucinations. Typically, studies have employed a modality general approach to mental imagery which compares imagery across multiple domains (e.g., visual, auditory and tactile) to hallucinations in multiple senses. However, modality specific imagery may be a better predictor of hallucinations in the same domain. The study examined the contribution of imagery to hallucinations in a non-clinical sample and specifically whether imagery best predicted hallucinations at a modality general or modality specific level.

In study one, modality general and modality specific accounts of the imagery-hallucination relationship were contrasted through application of self-report measures in a sample of 434 students. Study two used a subsample (n = 103) to extend exploration of the imagery-hallucinations relationship using a performance-based imagery task.

A small to moderate modality general relationship was observed between self-report imagery and hallucination proneness. There was only evidence of a modality specific relationship in the tactile domain. Performance-based imagery measures were unrelated to hallucinations and self-report imagery.

Mental imagery may act as a modality general process increasing hallucination proneness. The observed distinction between self-report and performance-based imagery highlights the difficulty of accurately measuring internal processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Early online date16 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2024

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