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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Nov;17(11):2733-43. Epub 2007 Feb 13.

Probing the pathophysiology of auditory/verbal hallucinations by combining functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) were used to explore the pathophysiology of auditory/verbal hallucinations (AVHs). Sixteen patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorder were studied with continuous or near continuous AVHs. For patients with intermittent hallucinations (N = 8), blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) activation maps comparing hallucination and nonhallucination periods were generated. For patients with continuous hallucinations (N = 8) correlations between BOLD signal time course in Wernicke's area, and other regions were used to map functional coupling to the former. These maps were used to identify 3-6 cortical sites per patient that were probed with 1-Hz rTMS and sham stimulation. Delivering rTMS to left temporoparietal sites in Wernicke's area and the adjacent supramarginal gyrus was accompanied by a greater rate of AVH improvement compared with sham stimulation and rTMS delivered to anterior temporal sites. For intermittent hallucinators, lower levels of hallucination-related activation in Broca's area strongly predicted greater rate of response to left temporoparietal rTMS. For continuous hallucinators, reduced coupling between Wernicke's and a right homologue of Broca's area strongly predicted greater left temporoparietal rTMS rate of response. These findings suggest that dominant hemisphere temporoparietal areas are involved in expressing AVHs, with higher levels of coactivation and/or coupling involving inferior frontal regions reinforcing underlying pathophysiology.

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