In schizophrenia, auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) are likely to be perceived as gender-specific. Given that functional neuro-imaging correlates of AVHs involve multiple brain regions principally including auditory cortex, it is likely that those brain regions responsible for attribution of gender to speech are invoked during AVHs. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a paradigm utilising 'gender-apparent' (unaltered) and 'gender-ambiguous' (pitch-scaled) male and female voice stimuli to test the hypothesis that male and female voices activate distinct brain areas during gender attribution. The perception of female voices, when compared with male voices, affected greater activation of the right anterior superior temporal gyrus, near the superior temporal sulcus. Similarly, male voice perception activated the mesio-parietal precuneus area. These different gender associations could not be explained by either simple pitch perception or behavioural response because the activations that we observed were conjointly activated by both 'gender-apparent' and 'gender-ambiguous' voices. The results of this study demonstrate that, in the male brain, the perception of male and female voices activates distinct brain regions.
- Auditory verbal hallucinations
- Functional MRI
- Human voice