An everyday kind of hallucination

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A note for Lesson no. 4, "Your Brain Predicts (Almost) Everything You Do," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 71 is:

Neuroscientists like to say that your day-to-day experience is a carefully controlled hallucination, constrained by the world and your body but ultimately constructed by your brain.

The appendix adds:

I referred to conscious perception and experience as an everyday hallucination for a number of years before discovering that philosopher Andy Clark eloquently makes the same point.

Since about 2012, I've been giving scientific talks to academics in which I use a "Mooney image" — a black and white blobby image — to demonstrate that your brain actively constructs every experience you have, as an everyday hallucination.[1] I used this device in my TED talk as well.

The psychologist Thomas Metzinger referred to the human brain as constantly hallucinating at the world during normal waking states.[2] The philosopher Andy Clark calls prediction signals in the brain "controlled hallucinations." He has written eloquently about this in his book.[3]

Also see Anil Seth's TED talk.

Interestingly, the neuroscientist Phil Corlett and his colleagues have studied how prediction signals give rise to psychiatric hallucinations.[4]


  1. Barrett, Lisa Feldman. 2017. How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  2. Metzinger, Thomas. 2004. Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, 52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  3. Clark, Andy. 2015. Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. Powers III, Albert R., Megan Kelley, and Philip R. Corlett. 2016. "Hallucinations as Top-Down Effects on Perception." Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 1 (5): 393–400.