Ganzflicker Reveals the Complex Relationship Between Visual Mental Imagery and Pseudo-Hallucinatory Experiences: A Replication and Expansion

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Abstract

Rhythmic visual flicker is known to elicit pseudo-hallucinations, making it an up-and-coming method to investigate anomalous perceptual experiences without pharmaceutical intervention. Ganzflicker is a full-screen visual flicker that can be experienced online. In the first exploratory Ganzflicker paper (N = 204), we investigated whether people with different self-reported visual mental imagery abilities report different visual experiences in the Ganzflicker. Results showed that people with no-to-low imagery (aphantasia distribution) were much less likely to experience complex and vivid pseudo-hallucinations compared to people with moderate-to-vivid imagery (imagery distribution). In this follow-up, I collected data from 6664 individuals from around the world, replicated the main results of the previous study, and additionally found that people from the imagery distribution report more frequent pseudo-hallucinations for a longer duration than people from the aphantasia distribution. I also conducted new analyses across individual imagery vividness ratings. This revealed a dramatic increase in susceptibility to pseudo-hallucinations from reports of “no imagery” to “low imagery vividness” within the aphantasia distribution. There is a positive linear relationship between imagery vividness and pseudo-hallucination vividness, whereas the relationship between imagery vividness and pseudo-hallucination complexity is categorical, as indicated by a jump in the likelihood to experience complex pseudo-hallucinations from the aphantasia distribution to the imagery distribution with no evidence for within-distribution variations. Finally, word cloud analyses of written descriptions of Ganzflicker experiences revealed unique language used by individuals from each distribution. In sum, Ganzflicker is an accessible, efficient, and effective method of investigating multiple aspects of anomalous perceptual experiences in people with different mental imagery abilities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number36318
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Volume8
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • General Psychology

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