Image by David Lloyd, University of Queensland
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Full article issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function.

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function have determined why our brains can adapt in unexpected ways as a response to nerve damage.

About 40% of people with non-inherited eye diseases—like age-related degeneration of the retina—develop long-term hallucinations involving flashes of light, shapes, geometric patterns or more detailed visions. Rather than indicating brain disease or mental illness, these hallucinations seem to be a natural consequence of the brain adapting to changing sensory input.

The research team, which included ARC Australian Laureate Recipient Jason Mattingley, has discovered that brain cells in participants with hallucinations were much more active in response to certain images than those of people without any retinal damage or hallucinations. This discovery suggests that hallucinations in these patients may be alleviated by specific treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Photo credit: 

Image credit: David Lloyd, University of Queensland (CC BY 4.0).