In a recent study, published in the journal Radiology, it was confirmed, for the first time in the history of medicine, that a specific brain area, that controls auditory functions, is related to schizophrenia hallucinations.
Dr. Luis Martí-Bonmatí (Chief of magnetic resonance in the Department of Radiology) assembled a team of researchers from University of Valencia, Spain. The radiology, medical, and psychiatric units from the University participated in this study in which 21 right-handed male patients with schizophrenia and persistent hallucinations and 10 healthy paired participants were enrolled.
A radiological technique called Magnetic Resonance Imaging was used to acquire brain images of schizophrenia affected patients. More specifically, functional echo-planar (after both emotional and neutral auditory stimulation) and morphometric three-dimensional gradient-recalled echo T1-weighted MR images were analyzed. Different statistical methods were used to analyze such images.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive procedure employed to obtain images of the inside of an object. It is used in medical imaging to analyze pathological or other physiological alterations of different parts of a patient’s body. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the use of MRI to record the haemodynamic response related to neural activity in the brain or spinal cord.
The study showed that functional abnormalities and corresponding gray matter deficits in several brain regions were present in schizophrenic patients while those abnormalities were NOT in normal patients. The affected area of the brain was the one related to the processing of human voice and auditory functions.
Among the schizophrenic patients, the results showed functional abnormalities and corresponding gray matter deficits in several brain regions associated with regulating emotion and processing human voices. More specifically, large coinciding brain clusters were found in the left and right middle temporal and superior temporal part of the brain. Other smaller areas were also affected.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain condition. It is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental illness. It is characterized by impairments in the perception of reality. Diagnosis is based on self-reported experiences and observed behavior. Common manifestations of schizophrenia are: auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, disorganized speech and thinking. With Schizophrenia significant social or occupational dysfunction may occur.
Dr. Martí-Bonmatí concludes that “The middle and superior temporal and the cingular gyri are closely related to the abnormal neural network involved in the auditory emotional dysfunction seen in schizophrenic patients”
Studies such as this will help to discover biological markers that can be used to better diagnose the disease and design specific courses of action in monitoring and treating patients.
Martí-Bonmatí et al. 2007. Chronic Auditory Hallucinations in Schizophrenic Patients: MR Analysis of the Coincidence between Functional and Morphologic Abnormalities, Radiology. Vol. 244: pages 549-556.
Schizophrenia. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia