New brain scans from people with psychosis may confirm a long-standing theory as to why people experience these sudden breaks from reality.

The theory states that, in psychosis, brain networks in charge of directing a person’s attention malfunction. This causes a person to experience hallucinations, or sensations of things that aren’t actually happening; and delusions, or unshakable false beliefs. Psychosis is a feature of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, but its symptoms exist on a continuum and can also occur independently of any defined mental disorder.

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