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Although auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are a core symptom of schizophrenia, they also occur in non-psychotic individuals, in the absence of other psychotic, affective, cognitive and negative symptoms. AVH have been hypothesized to result from deviant integration of inferior frontal, parahippocampal and superior temporal brain areas. However, a direct link between dysfunctional connectivity and AVH has not yet been established. To determine whether hallucinations are indeed related to aberrant connectivity, AVH should be studied in isolation, for example in non-psychotic individuals with AVH.
Resting-state connectivity was investigated in 25 non-psychotic subjects with AVH and 25 matched control subjects using seed regression analysis with the (1) left and (2) right inferior frontal, (3) left and (4) right superior temporal and (5) left parahippocampal areas as the seed regions. To correct for cardiorespiratory (CR) pulsatility rhythms in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, heartbeat and respiration were monitored during scanning and the fMRI data were corrected for these rhythms using the image-based method for retrospective correction of physiological motion effects RETROICOR.
In comparison with the control group, non-psychotic individuals with AVH showed increased connectivity between the left and the right superior temporal regions and also between the left parahippocampal region and the left inferior frontal gyrus. Moreover, this group did not show a negative correlation between the left superior temporal region and the right inferior frontal region, as was observed in the healthy control group.
Aberrant connectivity of frontal, parahippocampal and superior temporal brain areas can be specifically related to the predisposition to hallucinate in the auditory domain.
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