UIC psychiatrists to discuss hallucination research at Chicago conference

Psychiatrists from the University of Illinois at Chicago will discuss the relationship of hallucinations to substance abuse, medications and the epigenetics of psychosis at the Chicago Satellite of the International Consortium on Hallucination Research, to be held at UIC Sept. 25-28.

“This is a historical event because it is the first time the consortium has met in the United States, and it’s such an honor for UIC to be hosting,” says Cherise Rosen, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and a member of the conference executive steering committee.

The inaugural North American gathering of the interdisciplinary consortium will feature leading researchers, clinicians and thought-leaders on psychosis and hallucination from Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States as well as participants with personal experience of voices and psychosis.

Four UIC psychiatrists will present their research at the conference.

Dr. Rajiv Sharma, professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, will present on epigenetics and the treatment of psychosis. Epigenetics are chemical changes to DNA or other molecules in the body that alter the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic changes occur in response to environmental or even social factors, including maternal stress, and have been linked to illness and changes in behavior. Better understanding epigentic changes associated with psychosis holds promise in the development of new treatment options.

Dr. Cherise Rosen, assistant professor of psychiatry, will talk about auditory verbal hallucinations, or “voices,” and other delusions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychosis. Her recent findings suggest that patients with these disorders may experience different kinds of delusions along with hearing voices.

Marty Harrow, professor emeritus of psychiatry, will discuss the continuous use of antipsychotic medication in persons with schizophrenia. Beliefs about the long-term benefits of antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia are based on short-term assessments, but Harrow’s recent research found that long-term use of antipsychotics may not prevent the experience of hallucinations.

Dr. Christopher Holden, visiting assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and director of addiction services at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, will discuss methamphetamine and hallucinations. Methamphetamine, like many commonly-abused drugs, can cause psychotic symptoms including hallucinations. But unlike other drugs, it can cause prolonged symptoms that persist for over a month after the last dose was taken.  Holden will discuss hallucinatory symptoms and risk factors for the drug, and its underlying neurobiology.

More information and registration are online.

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