Psychiatry & Belief Team (Psychiatrie & Croyance): “PsyCHIC”

Supervisors : Renaud Jardri & Delphine Pins, University of Lille 2


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How beliefs access to consciousness?

Emerging spontaneously in the field of consciousness, beliefs are part of thoughts foundation. Sometimes, they become pathological. The PsyCHIC team works to understand the mechanisms leading to the genesis of different kind of beliefs. Let’s talk about their researches.

Belief is subjective and leads to hold something to be true, regardless of any evidence of its existence, its reality or its possibility. This fundamental phenomenon of human thought appears in the content of the ideas and influences the individual’s behaviors. The mechanisms that underlie their genesis are common to normal, idiosyncratic or pathological beliefs.

Beliefs have in common to emerge spontaneously in the field of consciousness through intuitions, interpretations, emotional or memory biases, delusions or sometimes through hallucinations. Pathological beliefs are part of psychiatric symptoms. They are disorders of thought content at the heart of the psychopathological processes, experienced in many psychiatric disorders, primary or secondary to somatic diseases.

Pathological beliefs may also occur briefly or periodically in healthy subjects, in some situations of stress or fatigue, or under the influence of psychoactive substances. They are more or less flexible, more or less criticized by the subject. Several clinical situations share common mechanisms with processes that lead to pathological beliefs as delusions, hallucinations, familiarity disorders, body illusions, suicidal ideations or posttraumatic flashbacks.

Our researches address these questions using two approaches. From a fundamental point of view, they aim to better understand the “normal” cognitive mechanisms: What are the mechanisms involved in the generation of beliefs and how they emerge in the field of consciousness?

At a clinical level, our objective is to better understand and treat psychiatric disorders: How psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, familiarity impairments, body image disorders, suicidal ideation and post-traumatic flashbacks invade consciousness and what are the mechanisms by which they lead or not to delirium, inward-looking attitude and acting out.

Our team then develops five research lines based on a common methodological approach, addressing a specific problematic, vulnerability and pathology. In particular, the recent development of imaging and innovative paradigms developed in the PsyCHIC team allowed the study of the neural basis of such subjective phenomena.