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Abstract

Causal perceptions power much of our behaviour and are a trans-diagnostic feature of mental health. While memory provides the building blocks of our experience, causal linkages allow us to make sense of the world and express our agency. Causal knowledge is necessarily built upon simple associative cues to causality with interventions providing further instrumental evidence about our causal effectiveness. However, cues to causality can lead to both causal illusions and delusions. I present some new experiments designed to explore causal enhancement using the Rapid Streaming procedure in humans. Participants in these experiments experienced rapid presentation of content neutral stimulus-stimulus contingencies designed to explore how ‘empty time' can enhance causal perception. In previous work using standard learning procedures causal perception is enhanced by increasing contiguous pairings of events and by increased 'empty time'. I will discuss whether these experiments are coming up against the boundary conditions under which causal perception is enhanced and diminished.