From Tones in Tinnitus to Sensed Social Interaction in Schizophrenia: How Understanding Cortical Organization Can Inform the Study of Hallucinations and Psychosis

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The content, modality, and perceptual attributes of hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms may be related to neural representation at a single cell and population level in the cerebral cortex. A brief survey of some principles and examples of cortical representation and organization will be presented together with evidence for a correspondence between the neurobiology of brain areas activated at the time of a hallucination and the content of the corresponding hallucinatory and psychotic experiences. Contrasting the hallucinations of schizophrenia with other conditions, we highlight phenomenological aspects of hallucinations that are ignored in clinical practice but carry potentially important information about the brain regions and dysfunctions underlying them. Knowledge of cortical representation and organization are being used to develop animal models of hallucination and to test treatments that are now beginning to translate to the clinical domain.

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