This month in voices: November 2012

Europe has produced most of our papers relating to voice-hearing this month. Some interesting research…

BrightonBrighton, England: Coy and Hutton explore the role of hallucination proneness and social threat on time perception.

Accessible summary: This study examined time perception in people without psychiatric disorders, and how this related to their proneness to hallucinations. People were presented with a picture of a face on a computer screen (which could be happy, angry, neutral or fearful) for between 1 and 5 seconds, and then had to indicate how long the face had been shown for. Participants who had a high proneness to hallucinations thought that specifically angry faces had been presented for longer than people who had a low proneness to hallucinations. The authors conclude that this may “contribute to maintaining a state of hypervigilance to social threat”.

Link to paper:


Maastricht4Maastricht, Netherlands: Dirk Corstens and colleagues challenge the conclusions of a recent paper on treatments for hallucinations.

Accessible summary: This paper responds to an earlier paper on treatments for hallucinations by Sommer and colleagues. In contrast to this earlier paper, Corstens and colleagues conclude regarding treatments for hallucinations that “if the recommendations were derived logically, without preconception, from the evidence provided by Sommer et al. themselves, then psychological therapies (including, but not limited to, CBT) would be proposed as the treatment of choice, medication as an augmentation strategy (but with proper regard to the relative safety of these two approaches), and ECT and TMS not recommended at all.”

Link to paper:


Bern4Bern, Switzerland: Homan and colleagues look at what neural characteristics predict whether someone’s auditory hallucinations will be improved by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment.

Accessible summary: This study found that people whose auditory hallucinations were reduced after TMS were characterised by having greater blood flow in the left superior temporal gyrus (an area involved in speech perception and comprehension) before treatment. The authors suggest that TMS may turn out only to be effective for such a specific subgroup of people with auditory hallucinations (i.e., not everyone).

Link to paper:


PolandKatowice, Poland: Krzystanek and colleagues examine the religious content of hallucinations.

Accessible summary: I haven’t been able to access this paper, so I can only point you towards the abstract (available via the link below)

Link to paper:


Utrecht3Utrecht, Netherlands: Kelly Diederen and colleagues examine how areas of the brain talk to each other differently in people who hear voices and people who don’t hear voices.

Accessible summary:  This study looked at how strongly different parts of the brain were connected to each other in people who heard voices, compared to people who did not hear voices. The study was done when people were ‘at rest’, i.e., not doing any specific task. It found that 1) left and the right superior temporal regions had a greater connectivity in people who heard voices, 2) that their left hippocampal and left inferior frontal gyrus were also more strongly connected, and 3) that they did not have the normal negative correlation between the left superior temporal area and the right inferior frontal region, as found in the healthy control group. What does this mean? Basically, findings 1 and 3 were taken to indicate that voice hearers had altered neural activity in the way in which speech production (inferior frontal regions) and speech perception/comprehension (superior temporal regions) areas of the brain communicated with each other. This could result in the internal thoughts/speech of voice-hearer’s being experienced as not being produced by themselves and hence experienced as being spoken to by someone else. Finding 2, which found altered connectivity in voice-hearers between areas of the brain involved in memory (hippocampal) and inner speech (left inferior frontal gyrus), suggested that memory fragments may get turned into voices.

Link to paper:


Other papers:

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