Item-specific overlap between hallucinatory experiences and cognition in the general population: A three-step multivariate analysis of international multi-site data

Abhijit M. Chinchani, Mahesh Menon, Meighen Roes, Heungsun Hwang, Paul Allen, Vaughan Bell, Josef Bless, Catherine Bortolon, Matteo Cella, Charles Fernyhough, Jane Garrison, Eva Kozáková, Frank Laroi, Jamie Moffatt, Nicolas Say, Mimi Suzuki, Wei Lin Toh, Yuliya Zaytseva, Susan L. Rossell, Peter MoseleyTodd S. Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hallucinatory experiences (HEs) can be pronounced in psychosis, but similar experiences also occur in nonclinical populations. Cognitive mechanisms hypothesized to underpin HEs include dysfunctional source monitoring, heightened signal detection, and impaired attentional processes. Using data from an international multisite study on non-clinical participants (N = 419), we described the overlap between two sets of variables - one measuring cognition and the other HEs - at the level of individual items. We used a three-step method to extract and examine item-specific signal, which is typically obscured when summary scores are analyzed using traditional methodologies. The three-step method involved: (1) constraining variance in cognition variables to that which is predictable from HE variables, followed by dimension reduction, (2) determining reliable HE items using split-halves and permutation tests, and (3) selecting cognition items for interpretation using a leave-one-out procedure followed by repetition of Steps 1 and 2. The results showed that the overlap between HEs and cognition variables can be conceptualized as bi-dimensional, with two distinct mechanisms emerging as candidates for separate pathways to the development of HEs: HEs involving perceptual distortions on one hand (including voices), underpinned by a low threshold for signal detection in cognition, and HEs involving sensory overload on the other hand, underpinned by reduced laterality in cognition. We propose that these two dimensions—namely, HEs involving distortions/liberal signal detection, and sensation overload/reduced laterality—may map onto psychosis-spectrum and dissociation-spectrum anomalous experiences, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Aug 2021

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