Schizophrenics’ Hallucinations Are Linked to Circuits in Brain : SCIENCE FILE / An exploration of issues and trends affecting science, medicine and the environment

<i> From Times staff and wire reports</i>

Scientists have identified brain circuits that appear to make schizophrenics hear voices and see things that aren’t there. The finding, reported in the journal Nature, may help scientists develop better treatments for hallucinations.

Researchers from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center studied six schizophrenic patients, five who heard voices and one who heard voices and saw things. The patients lay in a brain-scanning machine and were told to push a button when they heard voices. Researchers found that, during the hallucinations, interconnected areas deep within the brain’s core and other areas on the surface were activated. Hearing voices is the most common hallucination in schizophrenia. Derogatory or threatening messages are especially common. The work gives clues about where to look for the basic defect that turns on the hallucination circuitry, experts said.