Pareidolia-proneness, reality discrimination errors, and visual hallucination-like experiences in a non-clinical sample

David Smailes*, Emma Burdis, Constantina Gregoriou, Bryony Fenton, Rob Dudley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Introduction: It has been proposed that hallucinations occur because of problems with reality discrimination (when internal, self-generated cognitions are misattributed to an external, non-self source) and because of elevated levels of top-down processing. In this study, we examined whether visual reality discrimination abilities and elevated top-down processing (assessed via face pareidolia-proneness) were associated with how often non-clinical participants report visual hallucination-like experiences. Methods: Participants (N = 82, mean age = 23.12 years) completed a visual reality discrimination task and a face pareidolia task, as well as self-report measures of schizotypy and of the frequency of visual hallucination-like experiences. Results: Regression analysis demonstrated that the number of false alarms made on the visual reality discrimination task and the number of hits made on the face pareidolia task were independent predictors of the frequency of visual hallucination-like experiences. Correlations between performance on the tasks and levels of schizotypy were not statistically significant. Conclusions: These findings suggest that weaker visual reality discrimination abilities and elevated levels of top-down processing are associated with visual hallucination-proneness and are discussed in terms of the idea that clinical visual hallucinations and non-clinical visual hallucination-like experiences share similar cognitive mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-125
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Volume25
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020

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