Schizophrenic hallucinations may be linked to brain structure differences according to a study recently published in Nature Communications. The combined efforts of researchers at the University of Cambridge, Durham University, Trinity College Dublin and Macquarie University have discovered that patients suffering from schizophrenia that also experience frequent hallucinations could also show abnormalities in their brain structures.
This recent study showed that schizophrenia patients who have recurring hallucinations are likely to also show reduced lengths of their paracingulate sulcus (PCS), which are folds in the human brain. Healthy people as well as people who suffer from schizophrenia but do not experience hallucinations do not have this abnormality in their brains.
The folds in the brain known as paracingulate sulcus are a type of structural folds that develop before birth and the length that they have varies for each individual. The varying lengths of the PCS are associated with the reality monitoring process for healthy individuals.
Previous studies have linked the length of these folds with the ability human beings have of differentiating between real information and products of the imagination. If the length of the PCS is normal people can correctly differentiate between the two, which means that their brains successfully perform the reality monitoring process.
Researchers have now discovered that a reduction of 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) in the size of the paracingulate sulcus in people diagnosed with schizophrenia was linked to an increased likelihood of up to 20 percent higher when it came to experiencing hallucinations.
Studying the cerebral structural differences of both schizophrenic patients that experience hallucinations and of patients that have been diagnosed with the condition but do not report hallucinations can lead scientists to determining a specific region of the brain associated with the symptom.
According to researchers other brain areas may also have an impact on the onset of hallucinations as the way in which these areas develop may influence how the individual processes auditory or visual information. Abnormal development in regions of the brain which influence visual or auditory perception could contribute to hallucinations as well.
In the case of PCS, if the lengths of the folds are underdeveloped the individual may have a lesser ability to differentiate between self-generated information and real information. As the PCS helps us identify information that we have fabricated, people with shorter folds could be less able to identify the source of this information and are more likely to process it as if it had been generated externally, according to the researchers that conducted the study.
Image source: www.pixabay.com