Hallucinations are perceptions in the absence of a corresponding external
sensory stimulus. However, during auditory verbal hallucinations,
activation of the primary auditory cortex has been described.
The objective of this study was to investigate whether this activation of
the auditory cortex contributes essentially to the character of
hallucinations and attributes them to alien sources, or whether the
auditory activation is a sign of increased general auditory attention to
The responsiveness of the auditory cortex was investigated by auditory
evoked potentials (N100) during the simultaneous occurrence of
hallucinations and external stimuli. Evoked potentials were computed
separately for periods with and without hallucinations; N100 power,
topography and brain electrical sources were analysed.
Hallucinations lowered the N100 amplitudes and changed the topography,
presumably due to a reduced left temporal responsivity.
This finding indicates competition between auditory stimuli and
hallucinations for physiological resources in the primary auditory
cortex. The abnormal activation of the primary auditory cortex may thus
be a constituent of auditory hallucinations.