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Title: The effect of psychological stress on auditory perception
Author: Hoskin, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 322X
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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Psychological stress appears to precede instances of auditory hallucinations in those vulnerable to them. This suggests that psychological stress acts on the auditory perceptual system in such a way as to encourage the generation of false percepts. This thesis investigated the impact of psychological stress on the perception of emotionally neutral sounds with the aim of identifying a potential mechanism to explain the influence of stress on the occurrence of auditory hallucinations. Two interconnected hypotheses, arising from the theory that stress reduces attentional control and therefore the ability to inhibit distracting information, were tested. An auditory signal detection task was created to test whether stress would reduce the ability of the auditory-perceptual mechanism to accurately detect signals. Instead of reducing discrimination ability, stress was found to bias responding towards reporting a signal in highly anxious individuals. A number of passive oddball tasks were designed to test the hypothesis that stress would increase the distraction caused by emotionally neutral sounds. Once again this hypothesis was largely refuted, with stress appearing to reduce, rather than increase, the impact of distracting auditory information on task performance. On the basis of these findings a revised model of how stress may encourage auditory hallucinations was proposed. This model suggests that, through a strengthening of selective attention, stress may mal-adaptively bias auditory perception towards misinterpreting internal signals as external. Further research proposals, designed to test the predictions of this model, are suggested.
Supervisor: Woodruff, P. W. R. ; Hunter, M. D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available