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Woman hears voices with a speech impediment

20 August 2007
NewScientist.com news service
A Swiss woman who fell off her bicycle has yielded a unique insight into how auditory hallucinations are generated.
The woman suffered damage to the part of the brain where speech is generated and could speak only in short, stunted words and sentences. Five months later, when she suddenly developed epilepsy, she began "hearing" voices with the same speech impediments as herself.
"She initially heard her own voice speaking aloud, then the voices of hospital staff," says Daniela Hubl at the University Hospital of Psychiatry in Bern, Switzerland, a member of the team that treated her. "They had the same speech impediments as she did. It proves that the voices were generated in the language areas of the patient's own brain." The hallucinations disappeared when the woman received drugs to control her epilepsy (The Lancet, vol 370, p 538).
Hubl believes the case is unique and supports more strongly than ever the scientific consensus that "voices" and other hallucinations experienced by people with conditions like schizophrenia are generated within their own brains.
From issue 2617 of New Scientist magazine, 20 August 2007, page 16

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