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Neuroanatomy of auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia: A quantitative meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometry studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1055
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date31 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

King's Authors


Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies demonstrate grey matter volume (GMV) deficits in schizophrenia. This method is also applied for detecting associations between specific psychotic symptoms and brain structure, such as auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs). However, due to differing methodological approaches, the available findings are inconsistent and difficult to integrate.

We used a novel voxel-based meta-analytical method to provide a robust quantitative review of neuroanatomical abnormalities specifically associated with the hallucinatory phenomenon in the schizophrenic brain. We reviewed all VBM studies of AVHs in schizophrenia published until July 2011 (n = 9). A total of 438 patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were included (307 with AVHs). Using a random-effects parametric voxel-based meta-analysis, coordinates of 83 foci reported as significant in the source studies were extracted and computed to estimate the brain locations most consistently associated with AVHs.

Severity of AVHs was significantly associated with GMV reductions in the left (p = .022) and marginally with the right (p = .062) superior temporal gyri (STGs, including Heschl's gyri) across studies examining correlations with AVHs severity in patients (n = 8). Analysis of studies categorically comparing patients with and without AVHs did not reveal any significant findings, possibly due to the small number of studies using this approach (n = 3).

This meta-analysis implicates bilateral STG (including Heschl's gyri) as key areas of structural pathology in AVHs in schizophrenia. These findings support a model postulating that aberrations within neural systems involved at different levels of language processing are critical to AVHs in schizophrenia.

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