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Psychiatry Res. 2007 Jan 15;154(1):21-9. Epub 2006 Dec 20.

Emotional words induce enhanced brain activity in schizophrenic patients with auditory hallucinations.

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  • 1Psychiatric Unit, University of Valencia School of Medicine, Valencia, Spain.


Neuroimaging studies of emotional response in schizophrenia have mainly used visual (faces) paradigms and shown globally reduced brain activity. None of these studies have used an auditory paradigm. Our principal aim is to evaluate the emotional response of patients with schizophrenia to neutral and emotional words. An auditory emotional paradigm based on the most frequent words heard by psychotic patients with auditory hallucinations was designed. This paradigm was applied to evaluate cerebral activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 11 patients with schizophrenia with persistent hallucinations and 10 healthy subjects. We found a clear enhanced activity of the frontal lobe, temporal cortex, insula, cingulate, and amygdala (mainly right side) in patients when hearing emotional words in comparison with controls. Our findings are consistent with other studies suggesting a relevant role for emotional response in the pathogenesis and treatment of auditory hallucinations.

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