Hallucinations, sensory perceptions without environmental stimuli, occur as simple experiences of auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, or visual phenomena as well as mixed or complex experiences of more than one simple phenomenon. The nature of the hallucination assists localization, differential diagnosis, and treatment planning. In particular, the presence of persistent visual hallucinations of persons with Parkinson's disease predicts dementia, rapid deterioration, permanent nursing home placement, and death. Hallucinations in persons with Alzheimer's disease are often associated with serious behavioral problems and predict a rapid cognitive decline. Theories of the etiology of hallucinations include (1) stimulation, e.g., neurochemical, electrical, seizure, and ephaptic, and (2) inhibition, e.g., destruction of normally inhibitory functions, resulting in disinhibition as in the Charles Bonnet and phantom limb syndromes. Functional neuroimaging procedures suggest anatomical associations for hallucinations. While hallucinations may be a symptom of medical, neurologic, and psychiatric disorders, they may also occur in a wide range of human experiences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems