Scientists discover and target brain area in patients with schizophrenia who 'hear voices'

September 5, 2017
For the first time, scientists have precisely identified and targeted an area of the brain which is involved in 'hearing voices', experienced by many patients with schizophrenia. They have been able to show in a controlled trial that targeting this area with magnetic pulses can improve the condition in some patients. Credit: University of Caen

For the first time, scientists have precisely identified and targeted an area of the brain which is involved in "hearing voices", experienced by many patients with schizophrenia. They have been able to show in a controlled trial that targeting this area with magnetic pulses can improve the condition in some patients. This early clinical work is presented at the ECNP conference in Paris on Tuesday 5th September, with later publication in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

"This is the first controlled trial to precisely determine an anatomically defined brain area where high frequency can improve the hearing of voices", said lead researcher, Professor Sonia Dollfus (University of Caen, CHU, France).

Schizophrenia is a serious long-term mental health problem. People with experience a range of symptoms, which may include delusions, muddled thoughts and hallucinations. One of the best-known is hearing voices, also known as Auditory Verbal Hallucination (AVH), which around 70% of people with schizophrenia experience at some point. These voices, may be 'heard' as having a variety of different characteristics, for example as internal or external, friendly or threatening, they may be continuously present or present only occasionally, and so on.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has been suggested as a possible way of treating the hearing of voices in schizophrenia. TMS uses magnetic pulses to the brain, and has been shown to be effective in several psychiatric conditions. However, there is a lack of controlled trials to show that TMS works effectively with AVH sufferers.

The French research team worked with 26 who received active TMS treatment, and 33 as a control group, who received sham (placebo) treatment. The researchers interviewed the patients using a standard protocol - the Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale - which revealed most of the characteristic features of the voices which they were hearing. The treated patients received a series of 20 Hz high-frequency magnetic pulses over 2 sessions a day for 2 days. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the pulses were targeted at a specific brain area in the , which is associated with language (the exact area is the crossing of the projection of the ascending branch of the left lateral sulcus and the left superior temporal sulcus)

After 2 weeks, the patients were re-evaluated. The researchers found that 34.6% of the patients being treated by TMS showed a significant response, whereas only 9.1% of patients in the sham group responded ('significant response' was defined as a more than 30% decrease in the Total Auditory Hallucinations Rating Scale score).

Professor Sonia Dollfus said: "Auditory Verbal Hallucinations, or "hearing voices" can be a disturbing symptom of schizophrenia, both for patients and for those close to sufferers. This is the first controlled trial to show an improvement in these patients by targeting a specific area of the brain and using high frequency TMS. This means two things; firstly it seems that we now can say with some certainty that we have found a specific anatomical area of the brain associated with auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia. Secondly, we have shown that treatment with high frequency TMS makes a difference to at least some sufferers, although there is a long way to go before we will know if TMS is the best route to treat these patients in the long-term".

Commenting, Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim and member of the ECNP executive board, said: "This work builds on previous studies that have shown a critical role of excessive activity of subregions of the temporal lobe in the generation of hallucinations in schizophrenia. To move this into treatment, controlled trial such as the one by Dollfus and coworkers are important. While response rates were moderate, TMS is a welcome addition to the therapeutic repertoire especially for patients who do not respond to medication."

Explore further: Researchers explore what happens when people hear voices that others don't

More information: This work has been accepted in the peer-reviewed journal Schizophrenia Bulletin: The Journal of Psychoses and Related Disorders. The exact publication date has still to be determined.

Note: Around 220,000 people have been diagnosed as having schizophrenia in England and Wales (https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/NAS%20National%20report%20FINAL.pdf)

Related Stories

Researchers explore what happens when people hear voices that others don't

August 10, 2017
People who hear voices—both with and without a diagnosed psychotic illness—are more sensitive than other subjects to a 125-year-old experiment designed to induce hallucinations. And the subjects' ability to learn that ...

People who hear voices can detect hidden speech in unusual sounds

August 21, 2017
People who hear voices that other people can't hear may use unusual skills when their brains process new sounds, according to research led by Durham University and University College London (UCL).

Electrical stimulation of brain may help people with schizophrenia learn to communicate better

July 13, 2017
UCLA researchers have found that people with schizophrenia were able to more accurately determine whether two auditory tones matched or differed, after receiving a type of electrical brain stimulation. Being able to distinguish ...

Psychics help psychiatrists understand the voices of psychosis

September 28, 2016
People with psychosis are tormented by internal voices. In an effort to explain why a Yale team enlisted help from an unusual source: psychics and others who hear voices but are not diagnosed with a mental illness.

Hallucinations and delusions more common than thought

May 27, 2015
Hallucinations and delusions in the general population are more common than previously thought.

Recommended for you

Behavioral therapy increases connectivity in brains of people with OCD

September 19, 2017
UCLA researchers report that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, when treated with a special form of talk therapy, demonstrate distinct changes in their brains as well as improvement in their symptoms.

Cognitive scientists find that people can more easily communicate warmer colors than cool ones

September 18, 2017
The human eye can perceive millions of different colors, but the number of categories human languages use to group those colors is much smaller. Some languages use as few as three color categories (words corresponding to ...

Why bad sleep doesn't always lead to depression

September 18, 2017
Poor sleep is both a risk factor, and a common symptom, of depression. But not everyone who tosses and turns at night becomes depressed.

Happiness is not determined by childhood biomarkers

September 18, 2017
Happiness is not determined by childhood biological markers such as height or body fat, according to a team of European researchers involving UCL.

People with schizophrenia have threefold risk of dying

September 18, 2017
People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die, and die younger, than the general population, indicating a need for solutions to narrow this gap, according to research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

The bilingual brain calculates arithmetic differently depending on the language

September 15, 2017
People can intuitively recognise small numbers up to four; however, when calculating, they depend on the assistance of language. This presents a fascinating research question: How do multilingual people solve arithmetical ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Spaced out Engineer
3 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2017
TMS can also cause the Frey Auditory effect, while the brain is emulsed in the field. Yet Wikipedia insists, that patents from the 1970s are not being used on people, despite the fact that the bio-markers for microwave poisoning displays, but those for schizophrenia do not. Electronic harassment is real and measurable, so be sure to know you are not being remotely tortured and are genuinely sick.
http://www.bigger...den.com/
By the way, even if you record the illegal biological frequencies(2.5hz- 610khz) and record them to the FCC, they will not do anything.
Oh and here is an unclassified document informing the fusion centers to execute this on you. You know, since the globalization of information and the internet, you are "empowered".
http://www.soc.mi...2014.pdf
I guess it doesn't mater if Nietzsche was right or not. Knowledge is being treated as power. And everyone is a terrorist. Only those with money have authority or the right to mystery and miracles.

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.