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Auditory Verbal Hallucinations: Social, but how?

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Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are experiences of hearing voices in the absence of an external speaker. Standard explanatory models propose that AVH arise from misattributed verbal cognitions (i.e. inner speech), but provide little account of how heard voices often have a distinct persona and agency. Here we review the argument that AVH have important social and agent-like properties and consider how different neurocognitive approaches to AVH can account for these elements, focusing on inner speech, memory, and predictive processing. We then evaluate the possible role of separate social-cognitive processes in the development of AVH, before outlining three ways in which speech and language processes already involve socially important information, such as cues to interact with others. We propose that when these are taken into account, the social characteristics of AVH can be explained without an appeal to separate social-cognitive systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Durham University, South Road, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2016

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