Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) have been proposed to result from altered connectivity between frontal speech production regions and temporal speech perception regions. Whilst the dorsal language pathway, serviced by the arcuate fasciculus, has been extensively studied in relation to AVH, the ventral language pathway, serviced by the inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus (IOFF) has been rarely studied in relation to AVH. This study examined whether structural changes in anatomically defined subregions of the IOFF were associated with AVH in patients with schizophrenia. Diffusion tensor imaging scans and clinical data were obtained from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank for 113 schizophrenia patients, of whom 39 had lifetime experience of AVH (18 had current AVH, 21 had remitted AVH), 74 had no lifetime experience of AVH, and 40 healthy controls. Schizophrenia patients with a lifetime experience of AVH exhibited reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) in the fronto-temporal fibers of the left IOFF compared to both healthy controls and schizophrenia patients without AVH. In contrast, structural abnormalities in the temporal and occipital regions of the IOFF were observed bilaterally in both patient groups, relative to the healthy controls. These results suggest that while changes in the structural integrity of the bilateral IOFF are associated with schizophrenia per se, integrity reductions in the fronto-temporal fibers of the left IOFF may be specifically associated with AVH.
- fractional anisotropy
- hearing voices
- diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)