Auditory verbal hallucinations and dysfunction of the neural substrates of speech

M. Stephane, S. Barton, N. N. Boutros

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    116 Scopus citations


    Objective: to evaluate the neural substrate of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH), the correlation between AVH and subvocal speech (hereafter SVS), and the relationship between speech and AVH. Method: we reviewed the papers found by an electronic literature search on hallucinations and speech. The review was extended to the papers cited in these publications and to classical works. Results: there is no conclusive evidence of structural abnormality of the speech perception area in hallucinating schizophrenic patients. However there is evidence of electrophysiological abnormalities of the auditory and speech perception cortices. Functional imaging data are inconsistent, yet point to the left superior temporal gyrus as one of the neural substrates for AVH. There is also evidence that SVS could accompany the experience of AVH. Conclusion: there is evidence that dysfunction of brain areas responsible for speech generation is a fundamental mechanism for generating AVH in schizophrenia. It results in a secondary activation of Wernicke's area (speech perception) and Broca's area (speech expression). The first leading to the experience of hallucinations, and the second, eventually, gives rise to a variable degree of vocal muscle activity detectable by EMG, and/or faint vocalizations detectable by sensitive microphones placed at proximity of the larynx. Direct stimulation or disease of Wernicke's area produces AVH without SVS.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)61-78
    Number of pages18
    JournalSchizophrenia Research
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - May 30 2001


    • Auditory verbal hallucinations
    • Inner speech
    • Schizophrenia
    • Speech
    • Subvocal speech

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Biological Psychiatry


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