Phenomenology of Voice-Hearing in Psychosis Spectrum Disorders: a Review of Neural Mechanisms

  • Lisa N. CruzEmail author
  • Jill Del Pozzo
  • Taylor Zar
  • Marie Hansen
Psychosis (A Ahmed, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Psychosis


Purpose of Review

Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are a common experience for people diagnosed with psychosis spectrum disorders, often leading to distress and disability. The purpose here is to describe four common phenomenological features of AVH (negativity of content, memory, inner speech/self-monitoring, and spatial location), and review their associated neural mechanisms.

Recent Findings

Diverse phenomenological qualities of AVH have been found to be related to differing brain regions. Negative content of AVH is associated with the right Broca’s area and increased amygdala activation, whereas the hippocampus has been associated with memory/thought intrusions. AVH characteristic of inner speech is associated with self-monitoring networks. Lastly, spatial location of AVH is associated with auditory processing regions of the brain, including the dorsal stream.


The vast heterogeneity of AVH suggests different neurobiological and neurocognitive underpinnings associated with the various phenomenological expressions of the experience. More imaging research is needed to understand the complexity of AVH.


Schizophrenia Psychosis Verbal auditory hallucinations Hallucination phenomenology Psychosis neurology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa N. Cruz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jill Del Pozzo
    • 3
  • Taylor Zar
    • 1
  • Marie Hansen
    • 4
  1. 1.Ferkauf Graduate School of PsychologyYeshiva UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  3. 3.Montclair State UniversityNew JerseyUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Vagelos College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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