Robots make people hear voices

© 2023 EPFL

© 2023 EPFL

Researchers from LNCO developed a robotic procedure able to make healthy participants hear voices when they were in fact hearing only noise. Their work garnered worldwide attention, including a notable feature in The New York Times and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Hallucinations are complex experiences that have major negative impact in many patients who experience them. Most of research on hallucinations to date has been conducted on patients, which makes it difficult to separate the effects of hallucinations in the general population (non-disease related) from those occurring because of a medical condition. In a study published in Psychological Medicine, Dr Pavo Orepic and colleagues from the Blanke Lab developed and tested a robotic procedure able to simulate the “hearing of a voice”, one the most common and very distressing psychotic symptom (auditory verbal hallucinations), in healthy participants under controlled laboratory conditions. The research provides a novel engineering method and fresh neuroscience data on how these experiences may align with the prevailing theories concerning the origin of auditory verbal hallucinations in the brain. Their goal is to improve our understanding of hearing voices to engineer better ways to help people who suffer from auditory verbal hallucinations.

Their work gained global recognition, prominently featured in The New York Times and the Swiss National Science foundation reported in various languages, engaging diverse audiences worldwide.


This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number 3100A0-112493), by the Bertarelli Foundation (grant number 532024), and two generous donors advised by Carigest SA.


Orepic P, Bernasconi F, Faggella M, Faivre N, Blanke O (2023). Robotically-induced auditory-verbal hallucinations: combining self-monitoring and strong perceptual priors. Psychological Medicine 1–13.