Dr Samuel Evans, Lecturer in Psychology, has worked on a successful collaborative research project, which raised awareness of non-clinical voice hearing and recently gained high profile media attention. 

Non-clinical voice hearers account for between 5-15% of the population. These individuals hear voices without any distress or need for mental health support.

In this research paper, published in the prestigious journal Brain, Dr Evans and his co-researchers used brain scanning to understand how voice hearers process unusual sounds. Voice hearers were more likely to spot “disguised speech” and to activate brain areas associated with attention more than those who do not hear voices.

This paper, a collaboration between researchers from the University of Westminster, Durham University, University College London, University of Oxford and University of Porto, was featured by BBC Radio 5, The Daily Mail, The Independent and The Telegraph among other media outlets.

Dr Samuel Evans, who was involved in this research, said: “It’s great to be involved in research that raises awareness whilst also furthering our understanding of the brain. By studying the brains of individuals who hear voices, without a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other mental health issues, we can better understand what causes auditory verbal hallucinations. In the long term, we hope that our work will inform mental health policy and improve therapy approaches.”

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