Introduction: Neuroimaging studies investigating auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) have revealed involvement of several cortical structures. These findings may however be biased by brain activity related to stimulus detection and motor processes associated with the task to indicate the presence of AVH. Disentangling brain activation specifically related to AVH and to additional cognitive processes may help focus on the true neuronal substrates of AVH and strengthen the development of new focal treatment strategies.
Methods: Brain activation during AVH as indicated by button press was compared to brain activation during auditory stimulus detection indicated by button press. We performed two neuroimaging meta-analyses, assessing 10 AVH and 11 auditory stimulus detection studies. A random-effects activation likelihood estimation was performed using GingerALE to assess commonalities and differences across AVH and stimulus detection studies.
Results: Activity in the claustrum, pulvinar area, medial geniculum body, pyramis, culmen, putamen, insula, and parahippocampal, medial frontal, precentral, postcentral, superior temporal and right inferior frontal gyri was found to be specifically related to AVH. The pars opercularis of the left inferior frontal gyrus and the left transverse temporal gyrus were activated to a similar extent during AVH and auditory stimulus detection.
Discussion: Development of new focal treatment strategies for AVH may focus on the areas uniquely activated in the AVH analysis. The pars opercularis and the transverse temporal gyrus may not be directly involved in the experience of AVH itself, but rather in auditory stimulus detection.
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