Deep Brain Stimulation Helpful For Some Visual Hallucinations Interview with:

Dr. Foltynie

Dr. Foltynie

Thomas Foltynie MD PhD
Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Neurologist
Unit of Functional Neurosurgery Institute of Neurology and
National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
University College London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Stimulation of the Nucleus Basalis of Meynert can enhance cholinergic innervation of the cortex in animal models and has been previously reported to have beneficial cognitive effects in a single patient with Parkinson’s Disease dementia.

In this double blind crossover trial, six patients with Parkinson’s Disease underwent low frequency stimulation to the NBM bilaterally.  While there were no consistent objective improvements in cognitive performance, there was a marked reduction in visual hallucinations in two of the participants. .

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Auditory Hallucinations Surprisingly Varied, Complex and Physical

Dr. Angela Interview with:
Dr Angela Woods

Associate Editor, BMJ Medical Humanities Journal
Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities
Deputy Director, Centre for Medical Humanities
Durham University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Woods: We’ve known for a long time that hearing voices, or auditory hallucinations, is reported by people with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses as well as by those who have no diagnosis. 5–15 per cent of adults will hear voices at some point during their lives – in circumstances that may be related to spiritual experiences, bereavement, trauma, sensory deprivation or impairment, as well as mental and emotional distress. However, what we know about voices clinically and empirically comes from a small handful of studies, typically conducted in mental health settings with patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia using quantitative scales and measures. Our study asked people to describe, in their own words, what it is like to hear voices. We designed an open-ended online questionnaire which was completed by 153 people with a range of diagnoses, including 26 who had never had a psychiatric diagnosis.

Our study found that a large majority of participants described hearing multiple voices (81%) with characterful qualities (70%). While fear, anxiety, depression and stress were often associated with voices, 31% of participants reported positive and 32% neutral emotions. To our surprise less than half the participants reported hearing literally auditory voices; 45% reported either thought-like or mixed experiences. Perhaps the most startling finding concerned the physicality of voices. Bodily sensations while hearing voices were reported by 66% of participants – these included feelings of tingling, numbness, burning, pressure, and a sense of being distanced or disconnected from the body.

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