Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) are a highly complex and rich phenomena, and this has a number of important clinical, theoretical and methodological implications. However, until recently, this fact has not always been incorporated into the experimental designs and theoretical paradigms used by researchers within the cognitive sciences. In this paper, we will briefly outline two recent examples of phenomenologically informed approaches to the study of AVHs taken from a cognitive science perspective. In the first example, based on Larøi and Woodward (Harv Rev Psychiatry 15:109-117, 2007), it is argued that reality monitoring studies examining the cognitive underpinnings of hallucinations have not reflected the phenomenological complexity of AVHs in their experimental designs and theoretical framework. The second example, based on Jones (Schizophr Bull, in press, 2010), involves a critical examination of the phenomenology of AVHs in the context of two other prominent cognitive models: inner speech and intrusions from memory. It will be shown that, for both examples, the integration of a phenomenological analysis provides important improvements both on a methodological, theoretical and clinical level. This will be followed by insights and critiques from philosophy and clinical psychiatry-both of which offer a phenomenological alternative to the empiricist-rationalist conceptualisation of AVHs inherent to the cognitive sciences approach. Finally, the paper will conclude with ideas as to how the cognitive sciences may integrate these latter perspectives into their methodological and theoretical programmes.
- Cognitive science