Hearing voices (also referred to as ‘auditory verbal hallucinations’) need not be associated with problems. However, for a number of people, they are. Problems are particularly likely to arise if the voices are frequent, say negative things, and if the person has no control over them.
Different people want differ ways to cope with their voices, as our research has previously found. For some, medication may be the solution. For others, approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy or the Hearing Voices Movement’s Maastricht Interview may provide answers and peace.
Another potential way of coping is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback works by showing people their brain activity in real-time, and then training them to manipulate this. It allows you to control your own brain.
I have just received some funding from the US-based Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation to test whether EEG-based neurofeedback can help people distressed by voice-hearing. My thanks go to them and to their donors for making this research possible.
The trial will be done in collaboration with Dr Michael Keane at the Dublin-based neurofeedback clinic, Actualise.
Work will start towards the end of 2017, when I will be looking to recruit a post-doc to work on this trial with me.
Hopefully this approach will prove effective and give people who are distressed by their voices another therapeutic option to choose from.
I was recently interviewed by Mathieu Frerejouan for the annually published Alius Bulletin.
ALIUS is an international and interdisciplinary research group dedicated to the investigation of all aspects of consciousness, with a specific focus on nonordinary or understudied conscious states traditionally classified as altered states of consciousness
Should you be interested, you can read it here: McCarthy-Jones Interview
The full Bulletin can be accessed here, which includes great interviews with others such as Tanya Luhrmann and Jakob Hohwy.
Thanks to Mathieu for taking the time to read my work, and for coming up with some great questions!
McCarthy-Jones, S., & Frerejouan, M. (2017). The phenomenon of voice-hearing: an interdisciplinary approach. An interview with Simon McCarthy-Jones. ALIUS Bulletin, 1, 37-45
A recent study I was involved in, led by my colleagues at Cambridge University, found a relation between the length of a specific groove in the frontal lobe of the brain (formally termed the paracingulate sulcus, although dubbed a ‘brain wrinkle’ by the BBC) and the likelihood that a person diagnosed with schizophrenia will have experienced hallucinations.
You can discover more about the study through Cambridge University’s press release, through a summary by other members of the team based at Durham University, or through reading the paper itself. The reference and link are below.
Jane Garrison, Charles Fernyhough, Simon McCarthy-Jones, Mark Haggard, the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank and Jon Simons, ‘Paracingulate sulcus morphology is associated with hallucinations in the human brain’, Nature Communications, November 2015.
Oh, and thanks to George Takei (Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu) for the mention: