Doctors trace source of voices in the head

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The Independent Online
Doctors have come a step nearer to finding the source of voices that torment schizophrenics as research in Britain and the United States suggests that defects in two areas of the brain might account for auditory hallucinations.

It had been assumed that the problem was linked to the part of the brain concerned with speech generation. But the new studies at the Institute of Psychiatry in London and the Cornell Medical Centre in New York indicate that the defect lies in areas responsible for imagining and monitoring speech.

One area is concerned with thinking in words and the other is activated when a person listens to someone else speaking. A breakdown of communication between the two areas appeared to be the key.

In a report in the Lancet, Dr Philip McGuire, of the Institute of Psychiatry, said: "A predisposition to hearing voices might reflect aberrant connectivity between areas concerned with the generation and monitoring of inner speech, and hence defective communication between the 'mind's voice' and the 'mind's ear'."