Researchers find a fine timeline between delusion and reality

October 12, 2017 by Bill Hathaway
Credit: stock.adobe.com

The line between reality and delusion may be just a matter of time, a new Yale study suggests.

Subjects with no history of were asked to predict which of five white squares would turn red and to report results to researchers. As expected, most reported guessing correctly one out of five times—until researchers sped up the test. If a square turned red within approximately 250 , were much more likely to say they predicted correctly. In they had simply predicted something that had already happened but had not consciously processed the experience.

According to the researchers, flaws in this neural timing mechanism may help explain why some people believe they are clairvoyant or mind readers: They may have already registered a person's response before they were consciously aware of the experience. Indeed, researchers found that subjects who scored highly on a scale for delusion-like belief were more likely to say they accurately predicted the appearance of the red square, even in time frames greater than 250 milliseconds.

"It's like thinking that you know it is about to rain, and then feeling the first ," said lead author and Yale psychologist Adam Bear. "Your thought may have been subconsciously influenced by those drops, yet you consciously experience them later." The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Explore further: Research suggests the conscious experience of choice may be constructed after we act

More information: Adam Bear et al. Mistiming of thought and perception predicts delusionality, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1711383114

Related Stories

Research suggests the conscious experience of choice may be constructed after we act

May 3, 2016
Sometimes, decisions we believe we make consciously, such as clicking on a link on a webpage or reaching for a cup of coffee, have already been made — a trick of the mind that may happen more than we think, new research ...

Psychopaths can regret bad decisions—but don't learn from them

November 29, 2016
Psychopaths do experience regret, particularly when their bad decisions affect them directly—yet they don't use that experience to inform their future choices, according to a new study published the week of Nov. 28 in the ...

Look into my eyes—why those who experience hypnosis are unlikely to be faking it

March 29, 2017
New research from scientists at the University of Sussex has taken a major step towards unlocking the secrets of hypnosis and gathering evidence that suggests that subjects aren't faking the effects of it.

Why having thoughts that aren't yours doesn't make you delusional

June 28, 2016
Any thought that occurs within our minds is undoubtedly our own thought – and when we say, "I think", there will be absolutely no mistake about the "I" to which we refer. In fact, only very few of us would even question ...

Dreams, déjà vu and delusions caused by faulty 'reality testing'

February 19, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Adelaide has delved into the reasons why some people are unable to break free of their delusions, despite overwhelming evidence explaining the delusion isn't real.

How hard is it to recognise that you are experiencing a delusion?

June 6, 2017
When people experience delusions or hallucinations there is usually some loss of contact with reality whereby normal processes of thought and perception are disturbed. As humans, we are all susceptible to experiencing anomalous ...

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.