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J Clin Psychiatry. 2018 May/Jun;79(3). pii: 17m11623. doi: 10.4088/JCP.17m11623.

Clinical Features of Auditory Hallucinations in Patients With Dementia With Lewy Bodies: A Soundtrack of Visual Hallucinations.

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Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.
Department of Geriatric Psychiatry, Mitsugumachi Clinic, Kumamoto, Japan.
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1 Honjo, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan.
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.
Department of Psychiatry, Heisei Hospital, Yatsushiro, Kumamoto, Japan.
Department of Psychiatry, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Suita, Osaka, Japan.



Auditory hallucinations are an important symptom for diagnosing dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), yet they have received less attention than visual hallucinations. We investigated the clinical features of auditory hallucinations and the possible mechanisms by which they arise in patients with DLB.


We recruited 124 consecutive patients with probable DLB (diagnosis based on the DLB International Workshop 2005 criteria; study period: June 2007-January 2015) from the dementia referral center of Kumamoto University Hospital. We used the Neuropsychiatric Inventory to assess the presence of auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, and other neuropsychiatric symptoms. We reviewed all available clinical records of patients with auditory hallucinations to assess their clinical features. We performed multiple logistic regression analysis to identify significant independent predictors of auditory hallucinations.


Of the 124 patients, 44 (35.5%) had auditory hallucinations and 75 (60.5%) had visual hallucinations. The majority of patients (90.9%) with auditory hallucinations also had visual hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations consisted mostly of human voices, and 90% of patients described them as like hearing a soundtrack of the scene. Multiple logistic regression showed that the presence of auditory hallucinations was significantly associated with female sex (P = .04) and hearing impairment (P = .004). The analysis also revealed independent correlations between the presence of auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations (P < .001), phantom boarder delusions (P = .001), and depression (P = .038).


Auditory hallucinations are common neuropsychiatric symptoms in DLB and usually appear as a background soundtrack accompanying visual hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations in patients with DLB are more likely to occur in women and those with impaired hearing, depression, delusions, or visual hallucinations.

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