Abnormal monitoring of inner speech: a physiological basis for auditory hallucinations

Lancet. 1995 Sep 2;346(8975):596-600. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(95)91435-8.


Auditory verbal hallucinations ("voices") are thought to arise from a disorder of inner speech (thinking in words). We examined the neural correlates of tasks which involve inner speech in subjects with schizophrenia who hear voices (hallucinators), subjects with schizophrenia who do not (nonhallucinators), and normal controls. There were no differences between hallucinators and controls in regional cerebral blood flow during thinking in sentences. However, when imagining sentences being spoken in another person's voice--which entails both the generation and monitoring of inner speech--hallucinators had a normal left frontal response, but reduced activation in the left middle temporal gyrus and the rostral supplementary motor area, regions which were activated by both normal subjects and nonhallucinators (p < 0.001). These findings suggest that a predisposition to verbal hallucinations is associated with a failure to activate areas concerned with the monitoring of inner speech.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perceptual Disorders / complications
  • Auditory Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Hallucinations / etiology*
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed