Misattribution of speech and impaired connectivity in patients with auditory verbal hallucinations
Mechelli A., Allen P., Amaro E., Fu CHY., Williams SCR., Brammer MJ., Johns LC., McGuire PK.
Several studies report that patients with schizophrenia who experience auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) tend to misidentify their own speech as that of somebody else. We tested the hypothesis that this tendency is associated with poor functional integration within the network of regions that mediate the evaluation of speech. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we measured brain responses from 11 schizophrenics with AVH, 10 schizophrenics without AVH, and 10 healthy controls. Stimuli comprised prerecorded words, which varied for their source (self, alien) and acoustic quality (undistorted, distorted). Participants had to indicate whether each word was spoken in their own or another person's voice via a button press. Using dynamic causal modeling, we estimated the impact of one region over another ("effective connectivity") and how this was modulated by source and distortion. In controls and in patients without AVH, the connectivity between left superior temporal and anterior cingulate cortex was significantly greater for alien- than for self-generated speech; in contrast, the reverse trend was found in schizophrenic patients with AVH. In conclusion, when patients with AVH appraise their own speech we find impaired functional integration between left superior temporal and anterior cingulate cortex. Although this finding is based on external rather than internal speech, the same mechanism may contribute to the faulty appraisal of inner speech that putatively underlies AVH. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.