Brain region for “hearing voices” identified

Good news for schizophrenic people who hear voices: Scientists have found the region of the brain involved in the delusion. It’s a specific spot in the temporal lobe, where language originates.

Even better, targeting that area with magnetic pulses decreased the symptom for some patients.

The magnetic pulse success ratio was not overwhelming — in the recent study, 34.6 percent of people who received the magnetic treatment saw significant improvement, compared to 9.1 percent of people who didn’t have the treatment — but it’s still a good sign. It’s good to have options, especially for patients who don’t respond to medication.

Hearing voices, or Auditory Verbal Hallucination, is a common symptom of schizophrenia: About 70 percent of people suffering from the disorder will hear voices at some point.

Other symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
  • Movement disorders (agitated body movements)
  • “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
  • Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
  • Reduced speaking
  • Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)

The term “schiz” comes from the Greek word for “split” — which is probably why a lot of people confuse schizophrenia with multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder). In reality, the two are distinct disorders. Schizophrenia is so named because of the disconnect (or split) from reality its sufferers often feel.

Most people develop symptoms of schizophrenia between the ages of 16 and 30.

If someone you love is showing signs of schizophrenia, encourage him or her to get treatment. There’s a lot we can do to help!

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

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