April 12 and 13, 8PM - Visitations - Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University

April 13 - 10AM-6PM - Symposium - The CCRMA Stage, The Knoll, Stanford University 

Abstracts, slides and videos of talks:

Phantom Words, Musical Hallucinations, and the Speech-to-Song Illusion 

Diana Deutsch (UC San Diego)

Striking misperceptions and illusions have been explored extensively in the case of vision, particularly to demonstrate the influence of our knowledge and expectations about the world on how we see things. Yet in the case of hearing, misperceptions and hallucinations have been discussed more often in clinical contexts, and are frequently considered to be symptomatic of psychosis. However, striking perceptual aberrations occur frequently in normal people in the course of listening to speech, and musical hallucinations can occur in people who are often quite normal in other respects.

In this talk I first explore and demonstrate the appearance of phantom words that occur when the listener is presented with repeating words and phrases through stereophonically separated loudspeakers. I then examine musical hallucinations, emphasizing those that occur in people who otherwise appear quite normal. Finally, I discuss and demonstrate a striking illusion in which a spoken phrase, when presented repeatedly, is heard as sung rather than spoken. These three phenomena emphasize that our hearing mechanism does not simply analyze and reproduce the sounds that arise from the outside world. Rather it distorts incoming sounds in accordance with expectations derived from past experience, and it sometimes even generates complex percepts in the absence of incoming sounds.

The Acoustics of Imaginary Sound

Christopher Chafe (Stanford University) 

Mentally imagining voices and sounds in the "mind's ear" is as much a part of experience as visualizing in the "mind's eye." The vividness of sounds in the imagination varies between individuals but nearly everyone reports spontaneous sound and being able to conjure sounds intentionally. Imagining vocals and other sound has a role in planning even at very short time scales and this discussion is motivated by investigations of musical performance. Reading ahead or thinking ahead in sound can be a conscious part of playing or singing. When the next part of a passage is in the mind quasi-acoustically, is there something to be said about the presentation itself. Investigations of auditory imagery have shown the existence of quasi-loudness and quasi-timbre dimensions behaviorally and neuroimaging has shown different patterns of activation for sounds as perceived versus sounds as imagined. Phenomenologists have investigated the acts and objects of imagination itself and some see it constituted of differentiable modes. A very informal survey was circulated to a large number of subjects via Amazon's Mechanical Turk in oart to see if this platform might be useful for obtaining self-reports. If so, it could be one method by which large numbers of "arm chair" introspectors can be tapped for phenomenological agreement. In this initial attempt, inner voice provided a common reference for comparisons of loudness, location, and sound quality.   

Taxonomies of Voice-Hearing 

Angela Woods (Durham University) 

From St Augustine’s account of the relative spiritual value of corporeal, imaginative, and intellectual locutions to distinctions within contemporary neuropsychology between memory-based and hypervigilant auditory verbal hallucinations, the history of voice-hearing is marked by consistent (and somewhat paradoxical) efforts to establish precise taxonomies of this most elusive and heterogeneous phenomenon. More than simply a question of phenomenology – the different ways in which hearing voices is experienced – these taxonomies point to shifting notions of mind and body, self and other, autonomy and responsibility. This paper offers a critical introduction to some of the most influential accounts of voice-hearing before considering their relationship and relevance to mainstream psychiatric accounts of auditory verbal hallucinations.   

Robert Schumann, Kreisleriana 

Pedja Muzijevic, piano

Phenomenology of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations and How Internal Experiences Can Sound External

Judith Ford (UC San Francisco) 

The focus of my work for the last 13 years has been on understanding auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH), or the experience of hearing voices when no one is talking.  Although AVH are sometimes experienced by normal people (the “healthy” voice hearers), I approach the study of AVH from a pathological perspective, as they are a cardinal and defining symptom of schizophrenia.  The phenomenology of AVH in pathological and healthy populations are very different:  People without mental illness report that voices are more positive, more controllable, less frequent and less menacing than people with schizophrenia.  In schizophrenia patients, AVH are typically unbidden, intrusive, and unwanted. They often sound real and convincing, and they sometimes command the voice hearers to hurt themselves and others.  They are associated with morbidity and mortality.

In my presentation, I will discuss the leading theories of auditory verbal hallucinations and their phenomenology.  I will discuss our progress using brain-imaging tools to understand the phenomenology of auditory verbal hallucinations.  Specifically, I will show fMRI data aimed at explaining how unbidden thoughts become verbal and penetrate consciousness, and why they are typically negative and threatening. 

The Tyranny of Meaning; or, How Hallucination Got Its Name

Daniel Smith (The College of New Rochelle)

Hearing God

Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University)

The War Reporter

Parul Watson, photojournalist

PTSD and Auditory Hallucinations

Shaili Jain (Stanford University)

© Jonathan Berger, 2013 - Painting by Vera Gutkina ©, 2013 Vera Gutkina