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Schizophr Bull. 2014 Jul;40 Suppl 4:S221-32. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbu029.

From phenomenology to neurophysiological understanding of hallucinations in children and adolescents.

Author information

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Department,University Medical Centre Lille, Lille, France; Lille Nord de France University, UDSL, Functional Neurosciences & Disorders Lab, Lille, France;
University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, University Center for Psychiatry, Groningen, The Netherlands;
Adolescence Clinical Psychology Research Unit, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK;
Jenner Consult Haren & Audito, Practice for Child & Adolescent Voice Hearers, Ten Boer, The Netherlands;
National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden;
Sleep unit, Department of Neurology, Hôpital Gui-de-Chauliac, CHU Montpellier & National Reference Network for Narcolepsy, INSERM U1061, Montpellier, France;
Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; IRCCS, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Bologna, Italy;
Lille Nord de France University, UDSL, Functional Neurosciences & Disorders Lab, Lille, France; Lautréamont Clinic, ORPEACLINEA Group, Loos, France;
Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD; University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA;
Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD;
National Reference Center for Inherited Metabolic Diseases in Child and Adulthood, University Children's Hospital Jeanne de Flandre, Lille, France;
City University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK;
Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham, UK.


Typically reported as vivid, multisensory experiences which may spontaneously resolve, hallucinations are present at high rates during childhood. The risk of associated psychopathology is a major cause of concern. On the one hand, the risk of developing further delusional ideation has been shown to be reduced by better theory of mind skills. On the other hand, ideas of reference, passivity phenomena, and misidentification syndrome have been shown to increase the risk of self-injury or heteroaggressive behaviors. Cognitive psychology and brain-imaging studies have advanced our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying these early-onset hallucinations. Notably, specific functional impairments have been associated with certain phenomenological characteristics of hallucinations in youths, including intrusiveness and the sense of reality. In this review, we provide an update of associated epidemiological and phenomenological factors (including sociocultural context, social adversity, and genetics, considered in relation to the psychosis continuum hypothesis), cognitive models, and neurophysiological findings concerning hallucinations in children and adolescents. Key issues that have interfered with progress are considered and recommendations for future studies are provided.


adolescence; childhood; hallucinations; review

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