Summary: A new study links the white matter integrity of the corpus callosum with a person’s likelihood of experiencing auditory hallucinations and their musical aptitude.
Source: University of Liverpool.
New research published in Schizophrenia Research conducted at the University of Liverpool links brain structure to an individual’s likelihood of experiencing hallucinations and to their musical aptitude.
Previous research has showed that musicians have increased white matter integrity in a specific part of the brain called the corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve fibres that connects the left and right halves of the brain, enabling communication between the hemispheres.
In psychotic individuals with auditory verbal hallucinations the integrity of the corpus callosum has been found to be reduced.
Researchers from the University’s Psychological Sciences department identified 38 healthy individuals aged between 18 and 63 and tested their propensity to hallucinate, musical aptitude and measured their detailed brain structure using an MRI scanner.
The researchers observed that participants with higher musical aptitude showed lower hallucination proneness. More importantly, the research revealed musical aptitude was positively associated with corpus callosum integrity whereas hallucination proneness was associated with lower integrity in the fibres connecting the two hemispheres of the brain.
A statistical analysis indicated that the relationship between hallucination proneness and musical aptitude is mediated by microstructure in the corpus callosum.
Of the study Researcher Amy Spray said: “These results could have important clinical implications. If musical aptitude increases the white matter integrity of the corpus callosum, musical training could potentially counteract an individual’s predisposition of hallucinations.
“Future research should address whether rehabilitation approaches that include musical training can benefit patients with psychosis.”
Source: Simon Wood – University of Liverpool
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Original Research: Full open access research for “Relationship between hallucination proneness and musical aptitude is mediated by microstructure in the corpus callosum” by Amy Spray, Anton L. Beer, Richard P. Bentall, Vanessa Sluming, and Georg Meyer in Schizophrenia Research. Published online December 4 2017 doi:10.1016/j.schres.2017.11.024
Relationship between hallucination proneness and musical aptitude is mediated by microstructure in the corpus callosum
Poor interhemispheric communication is reported in schizophrenia patients (Endrass et al., 2002) and offers a potential explanation for the misattribution of internal events to external sources, which is a dominant theory for the genesis of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH). Consistent with this, the corpus callosum (CC), the white matter (WM) tract connecting the two brain hemispheres, is reduced in volume in schizophrenia patients (Shenton et al., 2001). Furthermore, the WM integrity metric derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), fractional anisotropy (FA) (Beaulieu, 2002), is reduced within the CC of schizophrenia patients (Keshavan et al., 2002). These differences are particularly prevalent in those callosal portions that interconnect frontal and temporal regions of the brain (the anterior and body sections of the CC). Moreover, FA negatively correlates with positive symptom severity, and a longitudinal study has shown there is a progressive decrease in FA which is associated with the development of psychosis (Carletti et al., 2012).
“Relationship between hallucination proneness and musical aptitude is mediated by microstructure in the corpus callosum” by Amy Spray, Anton L. Beer, Richard P. Bentall, Vanessa Sluming, and Georg Meyer in Schizophrenia Research. Published online December 4 2017 doi:10.1016/j.schres.2017.11.024