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The felt-presence experience: from cognition to the clinic

Barnby, Joseph M; Park, Sohee; Baxter, Tatiana; Rosen, Cherise; Brugger, Peter; Alderson-Day, Ben

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Joseph M Barnby

Sohee Park

Tatiana Baxter

Cherise Rosen

Peter Brugger


The felt presence experience is the basic feeling that someone else is present in the immediate environment, without clear sensory evidence. Ranging from benevolent to distressing, personified to ambiguous, felt presence has been observed in neurological case studies and within psychosis and paranoia, associated with sleep paralysis and anxiety, and recorded within endurance sports and spiritualist communities. In this Review, we summarise the philosophical, phenomenological, clinical, and non-clinical correlates of felt presence, as well as current approaches that use psychometric, cognitive, and neurophysiological methods. We present current mechanistic explanations for felt presence, suggest a unifying cognitive framework for the phenomenon, and discuss outstanding questions for the field. Felt presence offers a sublime opportunity to understand the cognitive neuroscience of own-body awareness and social agency detection, as an intuitive, but poorly understood, experience in health and disorder.


Barnby, J. M., Park, S., Baxter, T., Rosen, C., Brugger, P., & Alderson-Day, B. (2023). The felt-presence experience: from cognition to the clinic. The Lancet Psychiatry, 10(5), 352-362.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 26, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Mar 25, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2024
Journal The Lancet Psychiatry
Print ISSN 2215-0366
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 5
Pages 352-362
Keywords Biological Psychiatry; Psychiatry and Mental health
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