– Abigail Wright, 30th July, 2019
Every two years, the International Consortium of Hallucination Research (ICHR) release a call for working groups to be formed to conduct scientific research related to hallucinations. The groups are expected to submit a proposal of their idea and, if accepted, work together on the project for a 12-month to 4-year period. The work in progress is then presented at the biennial ICHR meeting to share and receive feedback from the wider ICHR group.
The next ICHR meeting is being held in September in Durham, UK. Excitingly, myself and Emma Palmer-Cooper co-lead one of these ICHR working groups: “Metacognition and predictive processing”. The idea of this working group was initiated following exploration of metacognition within our independent PhD projects.
To give some background, metacognition is considered “thinking about thinking” or the way someone thinks about themselves, their experiences, and other people. Metacognition had previously been shown to be poorer in those who have experienced psychosis and some studies have demonstrated metacognition has been associated with hallucinations, a prominent feature of psychosis.
However, due to the range of different measures and groups of individuals across the studies, research findings in this area have differed considerably from study to study. With this in mind, we proposed a study to assess the relationship between metacognition and hallucinations in a large group of individuals to be able to provide more concrete statement of the association. Once this is known, future research can help develop and change current therapies in order to decrease the presence of, or reduce distress from, hallucinations.
Experience of leading the working group
Being a co-lead for a working group has been a great experience in many ways including building leadership skills, management of time, organizing and collating people’s ideas and, importantly, learning from many different experts in the field.
If you are an ECR and are interested in leading an ICHR working group, I have created a list of tips:
- If you have an idea for a potential working group, find other ECRs initially to support your idea and then you can approach their mentors to also become involved.
- Co-leading has been very helpful as you can divide the time and responsibilities for larger tasks, e.g. Emma and I divided the project into two main tasks (computer task design and experience sampling methodology design) or smaller tasks, e.g. one co-lead can take minutes of the meeting whilst the other co-lead can chair the meeting.
- Never underestimate the technical difficulties of using teleconferences. Try to have a back-up, e.g. zoom or skype, or try not to overload the meeting agenda.
- As not everyone in the group will be able to attend all teleconferences, I always try to start the meeting with a brief overview of the project and the main topics covered in the last meeting to ensure we are all on the same page and helps keep the larger picture in mind.
- Enjoy the learning experience and opportunity to lead an exciting project!