Auditory hallucinations are among the most prevalent and most distressing symptoms of schizophrenia. Despite significant progress, it is still unclear whether auditory hallucinations arise from abnormalities in primary sensory processing or whether they represent failures of higher-order functions. To address this knowledge gap, we capitalized on the increased spatial resolution afforded by ultra-high field imaging at 7 Tesla to investigate the tonotopic organization of the auditory cortex in patients with schizophrenia with a history of recurrent hallucinations. Tonotopy is a fundamental feature of the functional organization of the auditory cortex that is established very early in development and predates the onset of symptoms by decades. Compared to healthy participants, patients showed abnormally increased activation and altered tonotopic organization of the auditory cortex during a purely perceptual task, which involved passive listening to tones across a range of frequencies (88–8000 Hz). These findings suggest that the predisposition to auditory hallucinations is likely to be predicated on abnormalities in the functional organization of the auditory cortex and which may serve as a biomarker for the early identification of vulnerable individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health