Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Musical hallucinosis: case reports and possible neurobiological models

  • Ramon Mocellin (a1) (a2), Mark Walterfang (a1) (a2) and Dennis Velakoulis (a1) (a2)
<span class='bold'>Objective:</span>

The perception of music without a stimulus, or musical hallucination, is reported in both organic and psychiatric disorders. It is most frequently described in the elderly with associated hearing loss and accompanied by some degree of insight. In this setting it is often referred to as ‘musical hallucinosis’. The aim of the authors was to present examples of this syndrome and review the current understanding of its neurobiological basis.

<span class='bold'>Method:</span>

We describe three cases of persons experiencing musical hallucinosis in the context of hearing deficits with varying degrees of associated central nervous system abnormalities.

<span class='bold'>Results:</span>

Putative neurobiological mechanisms, in particular those involving de-afferentation of a complex auditory recognition system by complete or partial deafness, are discussed in the light of current information from the literature.

<span class='bold'>Conclusion:</span>

Musical hallucinosis can be experienced in those patients with hearing impairment and is phenomenologically distinct for hallucinations described in psychiatric disorders.

Corresponding author
Ramon Mocellin, Level 2, John Cade Building, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria 3050 Australia. Tel: +61 3 93428750; Fax: +61 3 93428483; E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

GE Berrios . Musical hallucinations. A historical and clinical study. Br J Psychiatry 1990;156:188194.

R Mocellin , M Walterfang , D Velakoulis . Neuropsychiatry of complex visual hallucinations. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2006;40:742751.

P Cerrato , D Imperiale , M Giraudo et al. Complex musical hallucinosis in a professional musician with a left subcortical haemorrhage. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2001;71:280281.

S Evers , T Ellger . The clinical spectrum of musical hallucinations. J Neurol Sci 2004;227:5565.

C E Fischer , A Marchie , M Norris . Musical and auditory hallucinations: a spectrum. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2004;58:9698.

TD Griffiths . Musical hallucinosis in acquired deafness. Phenomenology and brain substrate. Brain 2000;123 (Pt 10):20652076.

VB Penhune , RJ Zattore , AC Evans . Cerebellar contributions to motor timing: a PET study of auditory and visual rhythm reproduction. J Cogn Neurosci 1998;10:752765.

S Murata , H Naritomi , T Sawada . Musical auditory hallucinations caused by a brainstem lesion. Neurology 1994;44:156158.

E Schielke , U Reuter , O Hoffmann , JR Weber . Musical hallucinations with dorsal pontine lesions. Neurology 2000;55:454455.

M Stephane , LK Hsu . Musical hallucinations: interplay of degenerative brain disease, psychosis, and culture in a Chinese woman. J Nerv Ment Dis 1996;184:5961.

A Baba , H Hamada . Musical hallucinations in schizophrenia. Psychopathology 1999;32:242251.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
  • URL: /core/journals/acta-neuropsychiatrica
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 2 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 169 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.