A new research conducted the study from University of Liverpool, which links brain structure to an individual's likelihood of experiencing hallucinations and to their musical aptitude. Participants with higher musical aptitude showed lower hallucination proneness. This research has been published in Schizophrenia Research.
Previous research has showed that musicians have increased white matter integrity in a specific part of the brain called the corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve fibres that connects the left and right halves of the brain, enabling communication between the hemispheres. In psychotic individuals with auditory verbal hallucinations the integrity of the corpus callosum has been found to be reduced. Psychometric studies show that hallucinatory experiences are not limited to schizophrenia patients, but instead are also observed to varying degrees in healthy individuals.
Accordingly, AVH may be investigated in a healthy population using measures such as the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale. Previous studies showed striking parallels between the psychological and neural processes involved in musical aptitude and those linked to AVH. Musical experience is associated with reduced misattribution, and musicians show faster interhemispheric transfer increased CC volume and increased FA in the CC particularly in the anterior and body section of the CC.
Taken together, these findings suggest that CC microstructure provides a neurophysiological correlate for a psychological continuum, with musicians at one end of the scale and schizophrenia patients with AVH at the other. Researchers from the University's Psychological Sciences department identified 38 healthy individuals aged between 18 and 63 and tested their propensity to hallucinate, musical aptitude and measured their detailed brain structure using an MRI scanner.
The researchers observed that participants with higher musical aptitude showed lower hallucination proneness. More importantly, the research revealed musical aptitude was positively associated with corpus callosum integrity whereas hallucination proneness was associated with lower integrity in the fibres connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. A statistical analysis indicated that the relationship between hallucination proneness and musical aptitude is mediated by microstructure in the corpus callosum.
Amy Spray said: "These results could have important clinical implications. If musical aptitude increases the white matter integrity of the corpus callosum, musical training could potentially counteract an individual's predisposition of hallucinations. In future research, the study should address whether rehabilitation approaches that include musical training can benefit patients with psychosis.