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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e43516. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043516. Epub 2012 Sep 6.

Resting state functional connectivity in patients with chronic hallucinations.

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Psychiatry Department, University Medical Center Utrecht & Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neuroscience, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are not only among the most common but also one of the most distressing symptoms of schizophrenia. Despite elaborate research, the underlying brain mechanisms are as yet elusive. Functional MRI studies have associated the experience of AVH with activation of bilateral language-related areas, in particular the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) and the left superior temporal gyrus (lSTG). While these findings helped to understand the neural underpinnings of hearing voices, they provide little information about possible brain mechanisms that predispose a person to experience AVH, i.e. the traits to hallucinate. In this study, we compared resting state connectivity between 49 psychotic patients with chronic AVH and 49 matched controls using the rIFG and the lSTG as seed regions, to identify functional brain systems underlying the predisposition to hallucinate. The right parahippocampal gyrus showed increased connectivity with the rIFG in patients as compared to controls. Reduced connectivity with the rIFG in patients was found for the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Reduced connectivity with the lSTG in patients was identified in the left frontal operculum as well as the parietal opercular area. Connectivity between the lSTG and the left hippocampus was also reduced in patients and showed a negative correlation with the severity of hallucinations. Concluding, we found aberrant connectivity between the seed regions and medial temporal lobe structures which have a prominent role in memory retrieval. Moreover, we found decreased connectivity between language-related areas, indicating aberrant integration in this system potentially including corollary discharge mechanisms.

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