Subcortical modulation in auditory processing and auditory hallucinations

Behav Brain Res. 2015 Dec 15;295:78-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.08.009. Epub 2015 Aug 11.


Hearing perception in individuals with auditory hallucinations has not been well studied. Auditory hallucinations have previously been shown to involve primary auditory cortex activation. This activation suggests that auditory hallucinations activate the terminal of the auditory pathway as if auditory signals are submitted from the cochlea, and that a hallucinatory event is therefore perceived as hearing. The primary auditory cortex is stimulated by some unknown source that is outside of the auditory pathway. The current study aimed to assess the outcomes of stimulating the primary auditory cortex through the auditory pathway in individuals who have experienced auditory hallucinations. Sixteen patients with schizophrenia underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sessions, as well as hallucination assessments. During the fMRI session, auditory stimuli were presented in one-second intervals at times when scanner noise was absent. Participants listened to auditory stimuli of sine waves (SW) (4-5.5kHz), English words (EW), and acoustically reversed English words (arEW) in a block design fashion. The arEW were employed to deliver the sound of a human voice with minimal linguistic components. Patients' auditory hallucination severity was assessed by the auditory hallucination item of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). During perception of arEW when compared with perception of SW, bilateral activation of the globus pallidus correlated with severity of auditory hallucinations. EW when compared with arEW did not correlate with auditory hallucination severity. Our findings suggest that the sensitivity of the globus pallidus to the human voice is associated with the severity of auditory hallucination.

Keywords: Auditory hallucinations; Auditory processing; Hearing; Schizophrenia; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex
  • Auditory Pathways / pathology*
  • Auditory Perception
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Self Report
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology