Delusions of alien control in the normal brain

Neuropsychologia
S J BlakemoreC D Frith

Abstract

Delusions of alien control, or passivity experiences, are symptoms associated with schizophrenia in which patients misattribute self-generated actions to an external source. In this study hypnosis was used to induce a similar misattribution of self-generated movement in normal, healthy individuals. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) was employed to investigate the neural correlates of active movements correctly attributed to the self, compared with identical active movements misattributed to an external source. Active movements attributed to an external source resulted in significantly higher activations in the parietal cortex and cerebellum than identical active movements correctly attributed to the self. We suggest that, as a result of hypnotic suggestion, the functioning of this cerebellar-parietal network is altered so that self-produced actions are experienced as being external. These results have implications for the brain mechanisms underlying delusions of control, which may be associated with overactivation of the cerebellar-parietal network.

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