Length of Brain Fold Tied to Hallucinations in Schizophrenia

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

The reason why some people with schizophrenia have hallucinations while others with the condition don't may be the result of a variation in a front part of the brain.

Jon Simons, PhD, of the University of Cambridge, England, and colleagues studied MRI scans in 153 people diagnosed with schizophrenia and compared them with scans from healthy controls. They wanted to find out if differences in the length of a fold in the brain, called the paracingulate sulcus (PCS), was linked to hallucinations.

In a prior study, Simon found that the length of the PCS in healthy individuals was associated with the ability to distinguish between reality and imagination, a process known as “reality monitoring.”

A 1-centimeter reduction in the length of the PCS boosted the likelihood of hallucinations by 20% in those who had schizophrenia, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Communications. And this effect was seen in both auditory and visual hallucinations.

Parts of the brain that process visual and oral information may produce incorrect perceptions that nonetheless are believed to be real by people who have hallucinations. The reason for this distorted reality may be linked to alterations in reality monitoring processes that occur in brain regions near the PCS, according to the researchers.

Length of Brain Fold Tied to Hallucinations in Schizophrenia
A reduction in the length of a fold in a part of the brain boosted the likelihood of hallucinations by 20% in those who had schizophrenia.

Some people with schizophrenia have hallucinations, which means they see, hear, smell or feel things that nobody else experiences. Now, a new study sheds light on this condition and suggests that there are differences in a key region of the brain for people with schizophrenia who have hallucinations, compared with those who do not.

The researchers — led by Dr. Jon Simons from the University of Cambridge in the UK — publish their study in the journal Nature Communications.

For quite some time, researchers have believed that an imbalance in the chemical reactions of the brain could play a role in schizophrenia.

But in a previous study, Dr. Simons and colleagues found that variations in the length of a fold toward the front of the brain — known as the paracingulate sulcus (PCS) — in healthy individuals was associated with the ability to distinguish real from imagined information, which is a process known as "reality monitoring."

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