As a basic organizing principle of the human brain, hemispheric specialization is an important perspective to explore the pathology of schizophrenia. However, it remains unclearly whether the hemispheric specialization of functional connectivity plays a role in mediating auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia. In this study, 18 schizophrenic patients with auditory verbal hallucinations, 18 patients without auditory verbal hallucinations, and 18 matched healthy controls underwent resting-state functional MRI scans, and seed-based voxel-wise functional connectivity was calculated to quantify the degree of hemispheric specialization. The results revealed that both the auditory verbal hallucinations and non-auditory verbal hallucinations groups exhibited significantly increased specialization in the left middle temporal gyrus and left precuneus, and significantly reduced specialization in the right precuneus relative to healthy controls, and that the auditory verbal hallucinations severity was significantly correlated with the hemispheric specialization of the right precuneus in the auditory verbal hallucinations group. Moreover, the left frontal lobe exhibited reduced hemispheric specialization in the auditory verbal hallucinations group compared with non-auditory verbal hallucinations group, and the patients with and without auditory verbal hallucinations could be clustered into two groups with an accuracy of 80.6% based on the brain regions exhibiting significant specialization changes. The findings indicate that the hemispheric specialization of the aforementioned regions may play a role in mediating auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia, and the distinct hemispheric specialization patterns of functional connectivity may provide a potential biomarker to differentiate schizophrenic patients with and without auditory verbal hallucinations.
aCollege of Intelligence Science and Technology, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha (P.T., L.P., H.S., D.H., L.-L.Z.)
bDepartment of Radiology, Xijing Hospital (F.G., Y.-B.X., L.-B.C., H.Y.)
cSchool of Medical Psychology (L.-B.C.)
dDepartment of Psychiatry, Xijing Hospital (H.W.), Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China
* Dr. Pengfei Tang and Dr. Fan Guo contributed equally to the writing of this article.
Received 4 September 2019 Accepted 24 September 2019
Correspondence to Ling-Li Zeng, PhD, College of Intelligence Science and Technology, National University of Defense Technology, 109 Deya Road, Changsha, Hunan 410073, China, Tel: +86 731 8700 5305; fax: +86 731 8700 5305; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org