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Functional MRI Evaluation of Multiple Neural Networks Underlying Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.

  • Author(s): Thoma, Robert J;
  • Chaze, Charlotte;
  • Lewine, Jeffrey David;
  • Calhoun, Vince D;
  • Clark, Vincent P;
  • Bustillo, Juan;
  • Houck, Jon;
  • Ford, Judith;
  • Bigelow, Rose;
  • Wilhelmi, Corbin;
  • Stephen, Julia M;
  • Turner, Jessica A
  • et al.
Abstract

Functional MRI studies have identified a distributed set of brain activations to be associated 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.

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