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Signs of increased cortical hyperexcitability selectively associated with spontaneous anomalous bodily experiences in a nonclinical population

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Cognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number6
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)549-573
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English



The current study examined the presence of cortical hyperexcitability, in nonclinical hallucinators, reporting different forms of anomalous bodily experiences (ABEs). Groups reporting visual out-of-body experiences and nonvisual sensed-presence experiences were examined. It was hypothesised that only those hallucinators whose experiences contained visual elements would show increased signs of visual cortical hyperexcitability.


One hundred and eighty-two participants completed the “Pattern-glare task” (involving the viewing of striped gratings with spatial frequencies irritable to visual cortex)—a task known to reflect degrees of cortical hyperexcitability associated with hallucinatory/aura experiences in neurological samples. Participants also completed questionnaire measures of anomalous “temporal-lobe experience” and predisposition to anomalous visual experiences.


Those reporting increased levels of anomalous bodily experiences provided significantly elevated scores on measures of temporal-lobe experience. Only the visual OBE group reported significantly elevated levels of cortical hyperexcitability as assessed by the pattern-glare task.


Collectively, the results are consistent with there being an increased degree of background cortical hyperexcitability in the cortices of individuals predisposed to some ABE-type hallucinations, even in the nonclinical population. The present study also establishes the clinical utility of the pattern-glare task for examining signs of aberrant visual connectivity in relation to visual hallucinations.