Psychiatry Neuroimaging Branch, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia and have been linked to abnormal activation, connectivity and integration within the auditory, language, and memory brain networks. The interhemispheric miscommunication theory of AVH is based on a steadily growing number of studies using a variety of modalities (EEG, fMRI, DTI) reporting that both altered integrity of the interhemispheric auditory pathways and disturbed functional gamma-band synchrony between right and left auditory cortices significantly contribute to abnormal auditory processing and the emergence of AVH. Moreover, initial studies using pharmacological EEG and 1H MR spectroscopy provided first insights into the underlying neurochemistry of AVH. It has been suggested that the observed interhemispheric gamma-band alterations might be mediated by an excitatory-to-inhibitory (E/I) imbalance due to dysfunction of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR). In support, a potential NMDAR hypofunction is proposed to be compensated by increased levels of glutamate in prefrontal and auditory brain areas. In this mini-review paper, we used the levels of explanation approach and present how interhemispheric brain connectivity (brain-imaging level) corresponds to auditory perception (cognitive level), and eventually how these parameters are related to changes in neurotransmission (cellular level) and to the occurrence of AVH (clinical level). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first overview that overcomes traditional boundaries and presents converging evidence from different levels of knowledge that validate and support each other, and particularly point toward the role of an interhemispheric miscommunication in AVH.