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Hallucinations as intensified forms of mind-wandering: Hallucinations and mind-wandering

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This paper argues for a novel way of thinking about hallucinations as intensified forms of mind-wandering. Starting from the observation that hallucinations are associated with hyperactive sensory areas underlying the content of hallucinatory experiences and a confusion with regard to the reality of the source of these experiences, the paper first reviews the different factors that might contribute to the impairment of reality monitoring. The paper then focuses on the sensory characteristics determining the vividness of an experience, reviews their relationship to the sensory hyperactivity observed in hallucinations, and investigates under what circumstances they can drive reality judgements. Finally, based on these considerations, the paper presents its main proposal according to which hallucinations are intensified forms of mind-wandering that are amplified along their sensory characteristics, and sketches a possible model of what factors might determine if an internally and involuntarily generated perceptual representation is experienced as a hallucination or as an instance of mind-wandering. This article is part of the theme issue 'Offline perception: Voluntary and spontaneous perceptual experiences without matching external stimulation'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190700
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • hallucinations, imagery vividness, mental imagery, mind-wandering

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