Hallucinations in schizophrenia linked to brain area that processes voices

July 31, 2007

For the first time, researchers using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have found both structural and functional abnormalities in specific brain regions of schizophrenic patients who experience chronic auditory hallucinations, according to a study published in the August issue of Radiology.

“The results showed abnormalities in specific areas of the brain associated with the capacity to process human voices,” said lead author, Luis Martí-Bonmatí, M.D., Ph.D., chief of magnetic resonance in the Department of Radiology at Dr. Peset University Hospital in Valencia, Spain.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder that affects approximately 1 percent of the global population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. People with schizophrenia often experience hallucinations, delusional thoughts, paranoia, disorganized thinking and other cognitive difficulties. Although the cause of schizophrenia has not been determined, it is believed to result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The condition is treatable, but there is no cure.

“Developing a clear understanding of the pathological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia is one of the greatest challenges in psychiatry,” Dr. Martí-Bonmatí said. “Using MRI to mark brain regions that are affected in both structure and function will help pinpoint specific abnormalities associated with the disease and ultimately enable more effective treatment.”

The researchers studied 31 right-handed men, 21 with schizophrenia who suffered from persistent auditory hallucinations and 10 healthy controls. Morphological MR images were acquired to show abnormalities in brain structure while functional MRI was used to gauge brain response to various emotional and neutral stimuli.

Among the schizophrenic patients, the results showed functional abnormalities and corresponding gray matter deficits in several brain regions associated with regulating emotion and processing human voices.

“We hope that by evaluating combined structural and functional abnormalities in the brains of these patients, we may uncover biological markers to find candidates for specific treatments and better monitor patient response to those treatments,” Dr. Martí-Bonmatí said.

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Explore further: Scientists find new genetic roots of schizophrenia

Related Stories

Scientists find new genetic roots of schizophrenia

October 19, 2016

UCLA scientists have made a major advance in understanding the biology of schizophrenia. Using a recently developed technology for analyzing DNA, the scientists found dozens of genes and two major biological pathways that ...

Recommended for you

Natural compound reduces signs of aging in healthy mice

October 27, 2016

Much of human health hinges on how well the body manufactures and uses energy. For reasons that remain unclear, cells' ability to produce energy declines with age, prompting scientists to suspect that the steady loss of efficiency ...

A metabolic switch to turn off obesity

October 27, 2016

You've tried all the diets. No matter: you've still regained the weight you lost, even though you ate well and you exercised regularly! This may be due to a particular enzyme in the brain: the alpha/beta hydrolase domain-6 ...

Mitochondria control stem cell fate

October 27, 2016

What happens in intestinal epithelial cells during a chronic illness? Basic research conducted at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) addressed this question by generating a new ...

Scientists develop 'world-first' 3-D mammary gland model

October 27, 2016

A team of researchers from Cardiff University and Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has succeeded in creating a three-dimensional mammary gland model that will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.