Functional MRI studies have identified a distributed set of brain activations to be asso ciated with auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH). However, very little is known about how activated brain regions may be linked together into AVH-generating networks. Fifteen volunteers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder pressed buttons to indicate onset and offset of AVH during fMRI scanning. When a general linear model was used to compare blood oxygenation level dependence signals during periods in which subjects indicated that they were versus were not experiencing AVH ("AVH-on" versus "AVH-off"), it revealed AVH-related activity in bilateral inferior frontal and superior temporal regions; the right middle temporal gyrus; and the left insula, supramarginal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, and extranuclear white matter. In an effort to identify AVH-related networks, the raw data were also processed using independent component analyses (ICAs). Four ICA components were spatially consistent with an a priori network framework based upon published meta-analyses of imaging correlates of AVH. Of these four components, only a network involving bilateral auditory cortices and posterior receptive language areas was significantly and positively correlated to the pattern of AVH-on versus AVH-off. The ICA also identified two additional networks (occipital-temporal and medial prefrontal), not fully matching the meta-analysis framework, but nevertheless containing nodes reported as active in some studies of AVH. Both networks showed significant AVH-related profiles, but both were most active during AVH-off periods. Overall, the data suggest that AVH generation requires specific and selective activation of auditory cortical and posterior language regions, perhaps coupled to a release of indirect influence by occipital and medial frontal structures.
Thoma RJ, Chaze C, Lewine JD, Calhoun VD, Clark VP, Bustillo J, Houck J, Ford J, Bigelow R, Wilhelmi C, Stephen JM and Turner JA (2016) Functional MRI Evaluation of Multiple Neural Networks Underlying Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders. Front. Psychiatry 7:39. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00039
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