Ben Alderson-Day
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“I’ll Set the Table for Three People When It’s Just Me and My Wife”
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Visual hallucinations are known to occur in both Parkinson’s and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). This chapter studies both conditions. The author posits that we have at least two different theories to consider. The body theory of felt presence reflects how we think the motor system works and provides a plausible explanation of how presences might be possible in particular situations and conditions. An alternative theory of presence is based on the broader idea of ‘predictive processing’. When we see, hear or feel things around us that aren’t there, our brain attempts to fill in the gaps based on some kind of ingrained expectation. That might not be something we are consciously expecting – it is more like a learned response. We can call this the expectation theory of presence. These models might not be mutually exclusive. Both of these theories could be playing a role in the presences of psychosis or Parkinson’s. They could potentially explain different examples of presence, or they could work in concert in some way, one laying the groundwork, the other offering a finishing touch.

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