The planum temporale (PT) is a highly lateralized brain area associated with auditory and language processing. In schizophrenia, reduced structural and functional laterality of the PT has been suggested, which is of clinical interest because of its potential role in the generation of auditory verbal hallucinations. We investigated whether resting-state functional imaging (fMRI) of the PT reveals aberrant functional connectivity and laterality in patients with schizophrenia (SZ) and unaffected relatives, and examined possible associations between altered intrinsic functional organization of auditory networks and hallucinations. We estimated functional connectivity between bilateral PT and whole-brain in 24 SZ patients, 22 unaffected first-degree relatives and 24 matched healthy controls. The results indicated reduced functional connectivity between PT and temporal, parietal, limbic and subcortical regions in SZ patients and relatives in comparison with controls. Altered functional connectivity correlated with predisposition towards hallucinations (measured with the Revised Hallucination Scale [RHS]) in both patients and relatives. We also observed reduced functional asymmetry of the superior temporal gyrus in patients and relatives, which correlated significantly with acute severity of hallucinations in the patient group. To conclude, SZ patients and relatives showed abnormal asymmetry and aberrant connectivity in the planum temporale during resting-state, which was related to psychopathology. These results are in line with results from auditory processing and symptom-mapping studies that suggest that the PT is a central node in the generation of hallucinations. Our findings support reduced intrinsic functional hemispheric asymmetry of the auditory network as a possible trait marker in schizophrenia.
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