The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Swiss researchers can make people hear voices

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 21 November 2023

Researchers can make people hear voices. A Swiss research team has developed a new method that triggers auditory hallucinations, as announced by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) on Monday. Their aim is to find new approaches for therapies.

Swiss researchers can make people hear voices
source x.com

The mechanism that causes people with mental illness in particular to hear voices is poorly understood, as the researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Geneva wrote in the study published in the journal “Psychological Medicine”.

“We still have no idea what happens in the brain during auditory hallucinations,” clarified lead author Pavo Orepic in the SNSF press release. According to the brain researcher, more than seventy percent of people with schizophrenia hear voices. And what these voices say is usually negative.

In order to make non-hallucinating people hear non-existent voices, the researchers designed an experiment to confuse the brains of the study participants.

This is how they triggered voices

Earlier studies indicated that auditory hallucinations occur when sensory impressions do not match the brain’s expectations. Other studies explained vocal hallucinations by the fact that the brain interprets sensory perceptions incorrectly when it is shaped by previous impressions. In the experiment, the researchers combined these two theories.

In a first step, the blindfolded test subjects had to press a lever in front of them. At the same time, a robot that was not visible to them touched them on the back. According to the SNSF, this was aimed at the first theory, as the sensory impression of touching the back did not correspond to the brain’s expectations. Previous studies have already shown that the illusion that people are touching themselves on the back by pressing the lever is generated over time.

In the next step, this touch was delayed. The idea is that if the touch on the back is no longer synchronized with the pressing of the lever, the brain has to find a new explanation for this. For example, the presence of another person. According to the second theory, such a false perception of presence can promote hallucinations.

“Hallucination engineering” works

To test whether this experiment really triggered voice hallucinations, the researchers played noise sounds to the test subjects. In some cases, the noise was mixed with recordings of their own voice or other people’s voices, in others only the noise was heard.

It was found that after the experiment, people heard strange voices in the sounds more frequently, even if no voice was mixed in. The “hallucination engineering”, as it is referred to in the study, therefore worked.

Even healthy people hear voices

According to the SNSF, the experiment shows that the two theories on the development of hallucinations may be intertwined. The study also confirms that the mechanisms behind hallucinations are actually present in every brain, said Orepic. “But for some reason, some are more susceptible to them than others.”

As the SNSF emphasizes in the press release, hearing voices does not necessarily mean that there is an illness behind it. Five to ten percent of all people sometimes hear voices, for example from a deceased grandmother giving advice. According to Orepic, the boundary between harmless and pathological hallucinations is fluid.

©Keystone/SDA

Most Read

Huge Rain Falls in Certain Regions of Ticino

1 April 2024
Huge Rain Falls in Certain Regions of Ticino
Over 200 litres of rain and snow per square meter inundated Ticino and neighbouring areas during the Easter weekend.

Sunday, March 31 – Weekend Round-Up

31 March 2024
Sunday, March 31 – Weekend Round-Up
The top Swiss municipalities for cost of living, Switzerland's diplomatic approach on international issues, and the healthcare sector's challenges.

The Park Hyatt Zurich Has Been Sold

4 April 2024
The Park Hyatt Zurich Has Been Sold
Trinity Investments, Oaktree Capital Management, and UBS Asset Management acquire Park Hyatt Zurich.

Swiss Francs Will Lose Value Against The Euro This Year – BOA Analysis Claims

1 April 2024
Swiss Francs Will Lose Value Against The Euro This Year – BOA Analysis Claims
US banks foresee the Swiss Franc reaching parity with the Euro this year, with further appreciation expected by 2025.

Stay in Touch!

Noteworthy

Barry Callebaut Beats Market Trends with Sales Increase
Barry Callebaut Beats Market Trends with Sales Increase
10 April 2024
Zug Leads Swiss Purchasing Power: GfK Study Insights
Zug Leads Swiss Purchasing Power: GfK Study Insights
9 April 2024