Voice hearing in borderline personality disorder across perceptual, subjective, and neural dimensions

Strawson, Will H, Wang, Hao-Ting, Quadt, Lisa, Sherman, Maxine, Larsson, Dennis E O, Davies, Geoff, Mckeown, Brontë LA, Silva, Marta, Fielding-Smith, Sarah, Jones, Anna-Marie, Hayward, Mark, Smallwood, Jonathan, Critchley, Hugo D and Garfinkel, Sarah N (2022) Voice hearing in borderline personality disorder across perceptual, subjective, and neural dimensions. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25. pp. 375-386. ISSN 1461-1457

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BACKGROUND: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) commonly occur in the context of borderline personality disorder (BPD) yet remain poorly understood. AVH are often perceived by patients with BPD as originating from inside the head and hence viewed clinically as "pseudohallucinations," but they nevertheless have a detrimental impact on well-being.

METHODS: The current study characterized perceptual, subjective, and neural expressions of AVH by using an auditory detection task, experience sampling and questionnaires, and functional neuroimaging, respectively.

RESULTS: Perceptually, reported AVH correlated with a bias for reporting the presence of a voice in white noise. Subjectively, questionnaire measures indicated that AVH were significantly distressing and persecutory. In addition, AVH intensity, but not perceived origin (i.e., inside vs outside the head), was associated with greater concurrent anxiety. Neurally, fMRI of BPD participants demonstrated that, relative to imagining or listening to voices, periods of reported AVH induced greater blood oxygenation level-dependent activity in anterior cingulate and bilateral temporal cortices (regional substrates for language processing). AVH symptom severity was associated with weaker functional connectivity between anterior cingulate and bilateral insular cortices.

CONCLUSION: In summary, our results indicate that AVH in participants with BPD are (1) underpinned by aberrant perceptual-cognitive mechanisms for signal detection, (2) experienced subjectively as persecutory and distressing, and (3) associated with distinct patterns of neural activity that inform proximal mechanistic understanding. Our findings are like analogous observations in patients with schizophrenia and validate the clinical significance of the AVH experience in BPD, often dismissed as "pseudohallucinations." These highlight a need to reconsider this experience as a treatment priority.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Auditory verbal hallucinations, borderline personality disorder, fMRI, hallucinations, Borderline Personality Disorder, Hallucinations, Hearing, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Schizophrenia
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2022 14:01
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2022 14:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/106554

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