This month in voices: January 2013

New year, new papers…

TrondheimTrondheim, Norway. Krakvok and colleagues examine how hearing voices affects people’s level of attention.

Accessible summary: This study found that the more malevolent people believed their voices to be, the worse their levels of attention were. However, how benevolent people believed their voices to be was not related to their levels of attention. The authors conclude that this “highlights the importance for clinicians to screen patients for their beliefs about voices”.

Link to paper:


Bergen2Bergen, Norway. Johnsen and colleagues examine the neuropsychopharmacology of hearing voices (i.e., how antipsychotic drugs have their effect on the brain).

Accessible summary: The details of this paper are hard to summarise. The study reviews how current antipsychotic drugs effect the brain, and note that whereas existing medications have targetted dopamine, newer drugs are now being developed that target other neurotransmitters. The authors also suggest that people with different sorts of auditory hallucinations might need to be prescribed different types of antipsychotic medications.

Link to paper:


Bergen3Bergen, Norway (again). Ocklenburg and colleagues examine differences in how the brains of people who hear voices process language.

Accessible summary: When people listen to speech, most of the work done to process this is done in the left hemisphere of the brain. After reviewing a large number of studies, this review concludes that if you hear voices then your right hemisphere is more involved in processing heard speech (i.e., language processing is less lateralised to the left hemisphere).

Link to paper:


Bangor2Bangor, Wales. Brookwell and colleagues examine the role of cognitive process in voice-hearing.

Accessible summary: This study performed a meta-analysis (reviewing all studies in an area) of previous studies that have examined hallucination-prone people’s ability to distinguish between their own thoughts/actions/speech and the actions/speech of other people (broadly refered to as source-monitoring studies) . The authors conclude that there was an association between “hallucination-proneness and biased capacity to discriminate between internally and externally generated events, with both hallucinating patients and nonclinical hallucination-prone individuals displaying increased tendency to misattribute internally generated events compared with non-prone counterparts”. The findings of this study are consistent with models that propose that auditory hallucinations arise from the misattribution of internally generated cognitive events (e.g., thoughts/memories) to external sources.

Link to paper:


ProvidenceProvidence, RI, USA. Wong and colleagues look at the association between hearing voices and suicide.

Accessible summary: The study found that in people with a diagnosed psychotic spectrum disorder, hearing voices which give commands (command hallucinations) was associated with suicidal behavior. However, auditory hallucinations per se were not associated with suicidal behaviour. The authors conclude that command hallucinations “should be the target of immediate and aggressive characterization and treatment”.

Link to paper:


Other papers:

  • Rish and colleagues undertake a neural network analysis of people diagnosed with schizophrenia who here voices, although it is hard to tell which of the findings are specific to the experience of hearing voices. Paper freely available here.
  • Although not specifically on hearing voices, there is an interesting paper on identity, led by Summer¬†Schrader and Nev Jones from the Voices and Visions lab in Chicago, with the full text of the paper being freely available here. There is also another paper led by Nev Jones which raises important and relevant points regarding the absence of c/s/x voices in academia. You can read it here.

More next month. SMJ.

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