Introduction: Verbal auditory hallucinations (VAHs) are experienced as spoken voices which seem to originate in the extracorporeal environment or inside the head. Animal and human research has identified a 'where' pathway for sound processing comprising the planum temporale, the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior parietal lobule. We hypothesize that increased activity of that 'where' pathway mediates the exteriorization of VAHs.
Methods: The fMRI scans of 52 right-handed psychotic patients experiencing frequent VAHs were compared with the reported location of hallucinations, as rated with the aid of the PSYRATS-AHRS. For each subject, a unique VAH activation model was created based on the VAH timings, and subsequently convolved with a gamma function to model the hemodynamic response. In order to examine the neurofunctional equivalents of perceived VAH location, second-level group effects of subjects experiencing either internal (n = 24) or external (n = 28) VAHs were contrasted within planum temporale, middle frontal gyrus, and inferior parietal lobule regions of interest (ROIs).
Results: Three ROIs were tested for increased activity in relation with the exteriorization of VAHs. The analysis revealed a left-sided medial planum temporale and a right-sided middle frontal gyrus cluster of increased activity. No significant activity was found in the inferior parietal lobule.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that internal and external VAHs are mediated by a fronto-temporal pattern of neuronal activity while the exteriorization of VAHs stems from additional brain activity in the auditory 'where' pathway, comprising the planum temporale and prefrontal regions. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.