Auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia (SCZ-AH) and subjective tinnitus (TN) are two conditions that share a superficial resemblance, namely the presence of phantom sounds produced by the brain. A crucial difference between them lies in the self-processing of the phantom signals, which is intact in TN patients but lost in SCZ-AH. Our study sets out to investigate the potential neural mechanisms for this crucial psychotic symptom of SCZ-AH under the framework of self. We gathered resting-state fMRI data from three participant groups: SCZ-AH, TN and healthy controls. Focusing on predefined self-related regions-of-interest, we found that SCZ-AH had reduced degree centrality in the right anterior insula (rAI) compared to both TN and healthy controls. Further functional connectivity analysis showed a reduced connectivity between the rAI and right superior temporal gyrus. Our finding indicates that compromised self-processing in SCZ-AH could be due to aberrant connectivity in rAI, which interacted with the decreased connectivity between rAI and auditory cortex, and jointly contributed to the misattribution of the source of the phantom sound. Our findings provided preliminary evidence for the neural mechanism of self-disorder underlying SCZ-AH, and could provide implications for investigating other modalities of hallucinations in schizophrenia.
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