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Abstract

Auditory hallucinations, the perception of a sound without a corresponding source, are common in people with hearing impairment. Two forms can be distinguished: simple (i.e., tinnitus) and complex hallucinations (speech and music). Little is known about the precise mechanisms underlying these types of hallucinations. Here we tested the assumption that spontaneous activity in the auditory pathways, following deafferentation, underlies these hallucinations and is related to their phenomenology. By extracting (fractional) Amplitude of Low Frequency Fluctuation [(f)ALFF] scores from resting state fMRI of 18 hearing impaired patients with complex hallucinations (voices or music), 18 hearing impaired patients with simple hallucinations (tinnitus or murmuring), and 20 controls with normal hearing, we investigated differences in spontaneous brain activity between these groups. Spontaneous activity in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex of hearing-impaired groups was significantly higher than in the controls. The group with complex hallucinations showed elevated activity in the bilateral temporal cortex including Wernicke's area, while spontaneous activity of the group with simple hallucinations was mainly located in the cerebellum. These results suggest a decrease in error monitoring in both hearing-impaired groups. Spontaneous activity of language-related areas only in complex hallucinations suggests that the manifestation of the spontaneous activity represents the phenomenology of the hallucination. The link between cerebellar activity and simple hallucinations, such as tinnitus, is new and may have consequences for treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalCortex
Volume136
Early online date5-Jan-2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5-Jan-2021

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