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Brain Injury Can Cause Auditory Hallucinations

Woman heard voices after injuring her head in bicycle accident

FRIDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Auditory hallucinations can result from trauma to the brain, not just from psychotic disorders, according to the authors of a case report published in the Aug. 11 issue of The Lancet.

Daniela Hubl, M.D., of the University Hospital of Psychiatry Bern in Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues describe the case of a 63-year-old woman who was admitted to hospital in August 2006 with head injury and loss of consciousness after she fell off her bicycle. Using magnetic resonance imaging they detected a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm of the left cerebral artery and damage to the left frontal, temporal and parietal lobes.

One of the most profound effects of her injury was severe speech deficit, which restricted her speech and understanding to short phrases. She also subsequently developed signs of epilepsy. Several months after the accident she began to hear her own thoughts and the hallucinated voices of others in external space. The likely cause of the hallucinations was epilepsy.

"Auditory hallucinations are widely thought to derive from inner speech that has been misidentified as coming from outside the self, because of defective monitoring," the authors write. "Our patient's experiences are consistent with this hypothesis, since her auditory hallucinations had speech deficits that, so far as we could establish, were the same as her own."

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