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Active Inference and Auditory Hallucinations

Benrimoh, D; Parr, T; Vincent, P; Adams, RA; Friston, K; (2018) Active Inference and Auditory Hallucinations. Computational Psychiatry , 2 pp. 183-204. 10.1162/cpsy_a_00022. Green open access

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Abstract

Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are often distressing symptoms of several neuropsychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia. Using a Markov decision process formulation of active inference, we develop a novel model of AVH as false (positive) inference. Active inference treats perception as a process of hypothesis testing, in which sensory data are used to disambiguate between alternative hypotheses about the world. Crucially, this depends upon a delicate balance between prior beliefs about unobserved (hidden) variables and the sensations they cause. A false inference that a voice is present, even in the absence of auditory sensations, suggests that prior beliefs dominate perceptual inference. Here we consider the computational mechanisms that could cause this imbalance in perception. Through simulation, we show that the content of (and confidence in) prior beliefs depends on beliefs about policies (here sequences of listening and talking) and on beliefs about the reliability of sensory data. We demonstrate several ways in which hallucinatory percepts could occur when an agent expects to hear a voice in the presence of imprecise sensory data. This model expresses, in formal terms, alternative computational mechanisms that underwrite AVH and, speculatively, can be mapped onto neurobiological changes associated with schizophrenia. The interaction of action and perception is important in modeling AVH, given that speech is a fundamentally enactive and interactive process-and that hallucinators often actively engage with their voices.

Type: Article
Title: Active Inference and Auditory Hallucinations
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/cpsy_a_00022
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1162/cpsy_a_00022
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright: © 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license
Keywords: Bayesian, active inference, hallucinations, psychosis, schizophrenia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10066252
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