Functional MRI evaluation of multiple neural networks underlying auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Robert J. Thoma, Charlotte Chaze, Jeffrey David Lewine, Vince D. Calhoun, Vincent P. Clark, Juan Bustillo, Jon Houck, Judith Ford, Rose Bigelow, Corbin Wilhelmi, Julia M. Stephen, Jessica A. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional MRI studies have identified a distributed set of brain activations to be associated with auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH). However, very little is known about how activated brain regions may be linked together into AVH-generating networks. Fifteen volunteers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder pressed buttons to indicate onset and offset of AVH during fMRI scanning. When a general linear model was used to compare blood oxygenation level dependence signals during periods in which subjects indicated that they were versus were not experiencing AVH ("AVH-on" versus "AVH-off"), it revealed AVH-related activity in bilateral inferior frontal and superior temporal regions; the right middle temporal gyrus; and the left insula, supramarginal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, and extranuclear white matter. In an effort to identify AVH-related networks, the raw data were also processed using independent component analyses (ICAs). Four ICA components were spatially consistent with an a priori network framework based upon published meta-analyses of imaging correlates of AVH. Of these four components, only a network involving bilateral auditory cortices and posterior receptive language areas was significantly and positively correlated to the pattern of AVH-on versus AVH-off. The ICA also identified two additional networks (occipital-temporal and medial prefrontal), not fully matching the meta-analysis framework, but nevertheless containing nodes reported as active in some studies of AVH. Both networks showed significant AVH-related profiles, but both were most active during AVH-off periods. Overall, the data suggest that AVH generation requires specific and selective activation of auditory cortical and posterior language regions, perhaps coupled to a release of indirect influence by occipital and medial frontal structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - Mar 29 2016


  • Auditory verbal hallucinations
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • General linear model
  • Independent component analysis
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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