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‘Inner Voices, Inner Music: The Phenomenology of Auditory Verbal and Musical Hallucinations

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Durham University, 17-18 September 2014

“Voice-hearing”, or auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs), refers to the experience of hearing a voice or voice-like sound in the absence of an external stimulus. AVHs are reported by individuals with a range of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder; however, they are also routinely experienced by so-called nonpathological populations as well. Similarly, musical hallucinations are anomalous auditory experiences of hearing music in the absence of an external musical stimulus. Musical hallucinations (MHs) have been associated with old age, progressive deafness, tinnitus, dementia, depression, and various psychiatric disorders—although, as with AVHs, they are also routinely found to occur spontaneously in the general population. Although AVHs and MHs can occur independently of one another, their co-occurrence (e.g., in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, or artists such as Robert Schumann and Brian Wilson) is not uncommon.

Hosted by Hearing the Voice, this workshop will be an interdisciplinary investigation into the phenomenology of AVHs and MHs. It will bring together individuals working in various disciplines, including musicology, literary studies, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. The objectives of the workshop will be to work toward a more refined understanding of the lived experience of AVHs and MHs, to discuss methodological issues involved in their investigation, and to indicate future lines of research.

Confirmed speakers include Ben Alderson-Day (Psychology, Durham University), Chris Chafe (Music, Stanford University), Diana Deutsch (Psychology, UC San Diego), Tuomas Eerola (Music, Durham University), Martyn Evans (Medical Humanities, Durham University), Charles Fernyhough (Psychology, Durham University), James Kennaway (Medical History, Newcastle University), Sukhbinder Kumar (Neuroscience, Newcastle University), Edward Wickham (The Clerks), Victoria Williamson (Medical
Humanities, Sheffield University), and Jonathan Berger (Music, Stanford).

Questions to be considered include (but are not limited to):
*Do AVHs and MHs always, sometimes, or never have the same features of veridical auditory experience?
*Do these features remain constant in pathological vs. non-pathological contexts?
*In what ways might more careful and nuanced first-person descriptions of AVHs and MHs guide the discovery of data at the neurophysiological level?
*Conversely, how, if at all, might neurological findings inform the study of the first-person phenomenology of AVHS and MHs?
*How might the social and historical context shape the way that AVHs and MHs are experienced and interpreted?
*What are the therapeutic implications of a broader, contextually-sensitive perspective on AVHs and MHs?

The workshop will have a research-intensive format, structured to allow for maximum discussion and interaction. It will consist of invited presentations, commentaries, and musical performances — supplemented with ample coffee breaks and social time to facilitate further engagement.

For more information, please download the ‘Inner Voices, Inner Music’ workshop programme: http://goo.gl/wI0RnG