musical hallucinations ("N.J. Versfeld" )

Subject: musical hallucinations
From:    "N.J. Versfeld"  <n.j.versfeld(at)AMC.UVA.NL>
Date:    Thu, 8 Aug 2002 22:33:35 +0200

Dear list, The explanation offered by Colette McKay <colette(at)UNIMELB.EDU.AU> (that is, the theory behind the "disconnection" syndrome described as Charles-Bonnet, in which, if the sensory input is disrupted, the auditory processing "discovers" it's own patterns) seems to me a very plausible description. Disruption may already occur as a consequence of medication, alcohol (!) or drugs(!!). I would like to add that in my view auditory hallucinations (of tinnitus, for that matter) also may arise because the auditory system tries to "compensate" for the lack of input (in case of hearing loss), which is a special case of disruption. Perhaps I might illustrate this compensation idea with one example of an 85-year old woman who came to our tinnitus clinic because she was terribly irritated by surrounding music and voices. For a long time she thought these sounds came from her neighbor. At one evening she made a remark to her daughter about her annoying neighbor and that he was playing the radio at all times, and especially at night sounds were very loud. When her daughter said she couldn't hear anything, she realized that the sounds were from inside her head. From the right she heard all kinds of familiar tunes, like the ones described by Diana Deutsch <ddeutsch(at)UCSD.EDU>; from the left she heard a mumbling of an Italian tenor. She had a hearing loss of about 50 dB(HL) in both ears. Noise (tinnitus) maskers could give only a slight relief, but hearing aids (notably her own hearing aids which she never wore) completely made the music and voices disappear... Niek Versfeld

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