Introduction: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) in schizophrenia (SZ) have been proposed to result from abnormal local, interregional and interhemispheric integration of brain signals in regions involved in language production and perception. This abnormal functional integration may find its base in morphological abnormalities. Structurally, AVHs have been frequently linked to abnormal morphology of the superior temporal gyrus (STG), but only a few studies investigated the relation of hallucination presence with both whole-brain gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) morphometry.
Methods: Using a unified voxel-based morphometry-DARTEL approach, we investigated correlates of AVH presence in 51 schizophrenia patients (20 non-hallucinating [SZ-], 31 hallucinating [SZ+]), and included 51 age and sex matched healthy participants. Effects are reported at p
Results: Patients showed lower GM volume of the left STG than controls, irrespective of AVH presence. In addition, SZ+ showed lower GM volume of the left inferior frontal and right parahippocampal gyrus, and higher WM volume of the left postcentral and superior parietal lobule than controls. Finally, volume of the putamen was lower in SZ+ compared to SZ-. No effects on corpus callosum morphometry were observed. Delusion severity, general positive and negative symptomatology illness duration, and medication status could not explain the results.
Discussion: Results suggest that STG GM abnormalities underlie the general susceptibility to experience psychotic symptoms and that additional abnormalities in a network of medial temporal, ventrolateral, putaminal, and parietal regions related to verbal memory and speech production may specifically increase the likelihood of experiencing AVH. Future studies should clarify the meaning of morphometry abnormalities for functional interregional communication. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.