Misfire in Brain Tied to Auditory Hallucinations

By Norton, Patrice G. W. | Clinical Psychiatry News, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Misfire in Brain Tied to Auditory Hallucinations


Norton, Patrice G. W., Clinical Psychiatry News


CHICAGO -- A miscommunication between the frontal and temporal lobes may account for auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia, Judith M. Ford, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Communication between the frontal lobes, where speech and thoughts are generated, and the temporal lobes, where they are perceived, may occur through the action of a corollary discharge.

Data suggest that in schizophrenia, corollary discharge fails to alert the temporal lobes that these thoughts are self-generated, leading to the misattribution of inner speech to external sources and producing the experience of auditory hallucinations, said Dr. Ford, director of the Laboratory of Clinical Neurosciences, Stanford (Calif.) University.

Corollary discharge is a mechanism for distinguishing self-generated from externally generated percepts and has been well described in the visual system. Early EEG studies of the auditory system have found that the response of the temporal lobe seems to be dampened when subjects are talking and yet robust when hearing ambient sounds in a room.

Dr. Ford and her associate Dr. Daniel H. Mathalon of Yale University in New Haven hypothesized that speaking generates a corollary discharge of motor speech commands that are transmitted to the auditory cortex, suppressing or dampening its response to self-generated speech sounds.

Event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to test whether failures of corollary discharge during speech contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Seven healthy subjects and seven patients with schizophrenia (DSM-IV) were asked to say the vowel sound "ah" into a microphone.

The N1 component of the ERP was recorded when the vowels were spoken and also when replayed for the subjects.

In healthy subjects, the N1 elicited by vowels as they were being spoken was smaller than the N1 elicited by those same vowels, recorded, and played back. …

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