Background: Task-based functional neuroimaging studies of schizophrenia have not yet replicated the increased coordinated hyperactivity in speech-related brain regions that is reported with symptom-capture and resting-state studies of hallucinations. This may be due to suboptimal selection of cognitive tasks. Methods: In the current study, we used a task that allowed experimental manipulation of control over verbal material and compared brain activity between 23 schizophrenia patients (10 hallucinators, 13 nonhallucinators), 22 psychiatric (bipolar), and 27 healthy controls. Two conditions were presented, one involving inner verbal thought (in which control over verbal material was required) and another involving speech perception (SP; in which control verbal material was not required). Results: A functional connectivity analysis resulted in a left-dominant temporal-frontal network that included speech-related auditory and motor regions and showed hypercoupling in past-week hallucinating schizophrenia patients (relative to nonhallucinating patients) during SP only. Conclusions: These findings replicate our previous work showing generalized speech-related functional network hypercoupling in schizophrenia during inner verbal thought and SP, but extend them by suggesting that hypercoupling is related to past-week hallucination severity scores during SP only, when control over verbal material is not required. This result opens the possibility that practicing control over inner verbal thought processes may decrease the likelihood or severity of hallucinations.
- functional connectivity
- functional magnetic resonance imaging
- inner speech
- speech perception