Voices in your head saying bad things

When the Voice Inside Your Head Turns Bad

Source: Geralt/Pixabay


“You messed up again!"

“You should have known better!”

Does this sound familiar? Of course it does!

The negative "voices" in our heads

We all have "voices" inside our heads commenting on our moment-to-moment experiences, the quality of our past decisions, mistakes we could have avoided, and what we should have done differently. These voices can be really mean and make a bad situation much worse. Rather than empathize with your suffering, they criticize, disparage, and beat you down at every opportunity! The voices have a familiar ring to them and convey an emotional urgency that demands our attention. These voices are automatic, fear-based “rules for living” that act like inner bullies, keeping us stuck in the same old cycles and hampering our spontaneous enjoyment of life and our abilities to live and love freely.

Where do these voices come from?

Psychologists believe these voices are residues of childhood experiences—automatic patterns of neural firing stored in our brains and dissociated from the memory of the events they are trying to protect us from. While having fear-based self-protective and self-disciplining rules probably made sense and helped us to survive when we were helpless kids, at the mercy of our parents, they may no longer be appropriate to our lives as adults. As adults, we have more ability to walk away from unhealthy situations and make conscious choices about our lives and relationships based on our own feelings, needs, and interests. Yet, in many cases, we’re so used to living by these unwritten internal rules that we don’t even notice or question them.

What happens when the "voices" take charge of our lives?

If left unchecked, the voices in our heads will take charge of our lives and keep us stuck in mental and behavioral prisons of our own making. They scare us into believing that the outside world is dangerous, and that we need to obey their rules for living in order to survive and avoid pain. By following (or rigidly disobeying) these rules, we don’t allow ourselves to adapt our responses to experiences as they naturally unfold. Our behaviors and emotional responses become more a reflection of yesterday’s reality than what is happening today. And we never seem to escape our dysfunctional childhoods.

The Schema Therapy approach

Psychologist Jeffrey Young and his colleagues call these rigid rules of living and views of the world “schemas.” Based on our earliest experiences with caregivers, schemas contain information about our own abilities to survive independently, how others will treat us, what outcomes we deserve in life, and how safe or dangerous the world is. They can also get in the way of having healthy relationships in life, work, and love.

How Negative Schemas Affect Our Lives & Relationships

Young suggests that negative schemas limit our lives and relationships in several ways:

  1. We behave in ways that maintain them.
  2. We interpret our experiences in ways that make them seem true, even if they really aren’t.
  3. In efforts to avoid pain, we restrict our lives so we never get to test them out
  4. We sometimes overcompensate and act in rigid, oppositional ways that interfere with our relationships.

The Abandonment Schema – Diana’s Story

A woman who we will call Diana has a schema of “Abandonment.” When she was 5 years old, her father ran off with his secretary and disappeared from her life, not returning until she was a teenager. The pain of being abandoned was so devastating for young Diana that some part of her brain determined that she would never again allow herself to experience this amount of pain. Also, as many children do, she felt deep down that she was to blame; she wasn’t lovable enough, or else her father would have stuck around; a type of "Defectiveness" schema.

Once Diana developed this schema, she became very sensitive to rejection, seeing the normal ups and downs of children’s friendships and teenage dating as further proof that she was unlovable and destined to be abandoned. She also tried desperately to cover up for her perceived inadequacies by focusing on pleasing her romantic partners, and making them need her so much that they would never leave her. She felt a special chemistry for distant, commitment-phobic men. When she attracted a partner who was open and authentic, she became so controlling, insecure and needy that, tired of not being believed or trusted, he eventually gave up on the relationship.

Diana’s unspoken rule is that it is not safe to trust people and let relationships naturally unfold; if she relaxes her vigilance for even a moment, the other person may leave. In an effort to rebel against her schema, she also acted in ways that were opposite to how she felt; encouraging her partner to stay after work to hang out with his friends, in an attempt to convince herself (and him) that she was ultra-independent. This led to chronic anger and feelings of dissatisfaction with her partner's lack of understanding of her needs; she neither understood nor acknowledged her own role in the cycle.

What can we do?

Schema Therapy can help Diana (and her partner) understand how their schemas result in ways of relating to self and others that are repetitive, automatic, rigid, and dysfunctional. By acknowledging and empathically connecting with her unresolved fears and unmet needs, Diana can become more mentally flexible and free. Schema Therapy can help to heal couples' conflict and individual problems such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, grief, and childhood trauma. The schema concept helps us understand how early childhood events continue to influence adult relationships and mental health issues. We need to recognize their influence, pay attention to what our automatic inner voices are saying, and (with professional help, if necessary), begin to free ourselves from their grip.

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Hear Voices in Your Head? When to Be Concerned

Ever heard a voice inside your head that wasn’t your own? You may have experienced an auditory hallucination.

The voice might have sounded like someone you knew, making you do a double-take to check they hadn’t come up behind you. Or maybe it sounded like a stranger, striking up a conversation or commenting on your choice of clothing.

However the voice sounded, you might have felt a little confused, possibly even concerned about your mental health.

You might have kept it to yourself, knowing that people often associate seeing or hearing things that aren’t there with schizophrenia and other serious mental health conditions.

Yet auditory hallucinations are more common than many people realize, especially among children and adolescents. Research suggests up to 10 percent of people will experience them at some point in life.

Auditory hallucinations don’t sound the same for everyone.

For instance, they may:

  • sound like a friend
  • speak kindly or compliment you
  • talk about private things you’ve never told anyone
  • say unkind things or criticize you
  • comment on your activities
  • offer guidance, including spiritual guidance
  • urge you to do potentially dangerous things
  • sound like music or other sounds, rather than voices

These auditory hallucinations can happen with or without other mental health symptoms.

In fact, research explains that auditory hallucinations not only have various causes, but they can also occur without any underlying condition.

The authors of that report urge mental health professionals to avoid diagnosing schizophrenia, or any psychotic disorder, when someone reports hearing voices without other symptoms.

Other research suggests voices that occur with mental health conditions tend too:

  • start slowly and intensify, then end gradually rather than all at once
  • last longer
  • seem to come from an external source
  • accompany or contribute to delusions
  • get in the way of everyday life

Still, voices that happen with schizophrenia and other conditions can vary quite a bit.

A small 2015 study suggests cultural background could play a part in the type of voice you hear.

In a sample of 20 people who reported hearing voices and met criteria for schizophrenia, the study found:

  • people in California tended to describe the voices as unreal intrusive thoughts
  • people in West Africa tended to say the voices were powerful and morally good or bad
  • people in West India were most likely to hear voices of relatives or voices offering advice

Wondering if intrusive thoughts count as auditory hallucinations?

Typically, no. Intrusive thoughts tend to show up as distinct thoughts, so you “hear” them in your own mental voice just as you would any other thought.

With auditory hallucinations, you hear the voice of someone else or a distinct sound.

While it’s absolutely possible to hear voices without any underlying condition, auditory hallucinations sometimes have a specific cause.

You could hear voices:

  • after losing your hearing
  • when grieving a loved one
  • after experiencing a head injury
  • when under a lot of stress
  • while using substances or alcohol, or during withdrawal

Auditory hallucinations can also show up as a symptom of some medical and mental health concerns.

Schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Schizophrenia and related conditions typically show up in early adulthood. They’re characterized by a disconnect from reality, which usually includes auditory or visual hallucinations as well as delusions.

Other common symptoms include:

  • trouble concentrating
  • a tendency to self-isolate
  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • disorganized thinking or speech
  • irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • difficulty expressing emotions

Learn more about schizophrenia symptoms and potential treatments.

Sleep disorders

A sleep disorder refers to any condition that regularly prevents you from getting the amount of sleep you need.

Your brain and body need sleep to function properly, and regular sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences.

You’ll want to talk with a healthcare professional if you:

  • have trouble falling asleep or wake up often
  • feel fatigued during the day or need naps to function
  • have trouble breathing while sleeping
  • notice difficulty concentrating on daily tasks
  • notice daytime anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • can’t maintain your desired sleep and wake schedule
  • frequently talk or move in your sleep

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Some people hear voices after experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD often causes extreme physical and emotional distress, so it can have a big impact on daily life.

Along with hallucinations, you might experience:

  • flashbacks or nightmares
  • difficulty focusing
  • anger and irritability
  • feelings of guilt, blame or self-blame, or depression
  • disinterest in your usual activities
  • anxiety, uneasiness, or panic

Other mental health conditions

It’s possible to have auditory hallucinations with many different mental health conditions, though not everyone with these conditions will ever hear voices.

  • Depression involves a persistent low mood, along with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emotional numbness.
  • Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of extreme mood. Along with hallucinations, you’ll experience episodes of mania (highs), episodes of depression (lows), or a combination.
  • Borderline personality disorder involves instability in emotions, sense of self, and relationships. You might also have fears of abandonment or feelings of emptiness.
  • Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by a person’s identity being split into two or more separate identities. You could hear people talking in your head or notice significant memory gaps.

Brain and nervous system disorders

You could hear voices with health conditions that affect the brain or nervous system, including:

  • meningitis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • dementia
  • temporal lobe epilepsy
  • migraine
  • a brain tumor

Symptoms of these conditions may include:

  • sudden, persistent head pain
  • numbness and tingling
  • vision changes
  • trouble with memory or concentration
  • weak or rigid muscles, muscle tremors
  • seizures
  • slurred speech or difficulty speaking clearly

Vitamin deficiency

You could experience hallucinations when you don’t get enough of certain vitamins, including vitamins D and B12.

Research also linked lower levels of vitamin D to more severe schizophrenia symptoms.

Symptoms of vitamin D or B12 deficiency might include:

  • weakness or fatigue
  • numbness and tingling
  • changes in vision or mobility
  • mouth ulcers
  • irritability or depression
  • pale or yellowing skin
  • muscle pain
  • frequent illness
  • hair loss

Hearing voices isn’t always a cause for concern. You probably don’t need to worry if:

  • you don’t feel disconnected from reality
  • auditory hallucinations don’t affect your everyday life
  • you don’t have other symptoms
  • the voices don’t bother you or encourage you to hurt anyone
  • you hear voices very rarely

Hearing voices that say cruel or unkind things, however, can affect your sense of self-worth and emotional well-being.

Even if you don’t have other symptoms, a trained therapist can offer non-judgmental guidance and support (more on this later).

Hearing voices can be confusing, distracting, or even upsetting — especially if the voices say critical or unkind things or if they make you feel bad about yourself.

Not knowing why the voices happen might add to your distress.

These strategies may not always make the voices go away, but they can help you cope with them.

Keep a journal

Some people find it helpful to keep a log of auditory hallucinations they experience.

Recording what the voices say, when you hear them, and how they make you feel can offer more insight into potential causes or triggers of the voices and common themes you notice.

For example, you might only hear them at a specific time of day or when you feel a certain way, like tired or angry.

If you decide you want to talk to a therapist about the voices, this recorded information could be the key to identifying what’s going on.

Talk about them

You might hesitate to tell loved ones that you’re hearing voices, but opening up to someone you trust can help.

Try talking to someone who has a history of offering non-judgmental support, like a best friend or close sibling.

Simply telling someone about your experience can help ease distress, and knowing you have support can help you feel less alone.

If you’re hearing voices while under a lot of stress, or after a loss or traumatic event, talking about those underlying triggers may help you get the support you need to cope. In time, this could help the voices go away entirely.

Not ready to talk about hearing voices to anyone you know? That’s absolutely OK.

You can also try peer support groups for people who hear voices, like:

  • Voice Collective Peer Support Forum
  • Hearing Voices Network
  • The International Hearing Voices Network

Accept them

It often helps to acknowledge that hearing voices isn’t uncommon — plenty of people hear voices from time to time.

Accepting these voices as part of your experience can help you feel less distressed, and, over time, you might notice them less and less.

While some people find it most helpful to ignore the voices, talking back could help you accept them and regain some control.

Some tips:

  • Speak calmly and compassionately, even if the voices say negative things.
  • Try a “Thanks, but no thanks” approach. Acknowledge the voice by letting it know, “I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not going to focus on it right now.” Then return your attention to what you were doing.

Becoming more mindful in your day-to-day life can also help. When you’re focused on the present moment, voices and unwanted thoughts might not distract you so easily.

Even if you hear a voice occasionally, increased mindfulness can make it easier to acknowledge it and let it go.

Relax and practice self-care

Taking care of yourself and making time for relaxation can help boost well-being. This can, in turn, ease the effects of stress and mental health symptoms.

Self-care might include things like:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • getting regular physical activity
  • sleeping 7–9 hours every night
  • getting outside
  • spending time with loved ones
  • participating in hobbies or social events
  • taking up creative pursuits, like art and music
  • reading, journaling, or watching movies

Hobbies and other enjoyable activities can also offer a distraction from voices and other sources of stress.

Music, another great relaxation strategy, can do more than help ease stress. Some people also find it helps tune voices out.

Along with your favorite playlists, you can also try:

  • relaxing sounds, like rain, waterfalls, ocean waves
  • instrumental or ambient music
  • audiobooks

Get professional support

When voices do occur alongside other symptoms, cause distress, or happen frequently enough to affect daily life, it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.

If you hear voices that encourage you to hurt yourself or anyone else, get support as soon as possible to stay safe.

A therapist or other health professional won’t call you “crazy” or immediately diagnose a specific condition.

They will:

  • ask questions about other symptoms to help rule out medical concerns
  • help you explore the voices and any potential triggers or underlying causes
  • offer guidance on treatments and coping skills

A doctor or other healthcare professional can offer more guidance when you experience physical symptoms rather than mental ones.

Experiencing auditory hallucinations may not automatically mean you have a mental health condition, but it can still feel unsettling and frightening.

If you can’t seem to turn the voices down or tune them out, a therapist can offer compassionate guidance and support.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

neuroscientist talks about the nature of auditory hallucinations - T&P

Hallucinations are what occur in the absence of an external stimulus, but are perceived as real. They can be associated with all the senses, that is, they can be visual, tactile and even olfactory. Probably the most common type of hallucination is when a person "hears voices". They are called auditory verbal hallucinations.

T&P continues a special project with New with the translation of an article by neuroscientist Paul Allen, published on the Serious Science website, about auditory hallucinations and the nature of their occurrence.


Although auditory hallucinations are commonly associated with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, they are not always a sign of illness. In some cases, they can be caused by lack of sleep; Marijuana and stimulant drugs can also cause perceptual disturbances in some people. It has been experimentally proven that hallucinations can occur due to a prolonged absence of sensory stimuli: in the 1960s, experiments were conducted (which would now be impossible for ethical reasons), during which people were kept in dark rooms without sound. In the end, people began to see and hear things that were not there in reality. So hallucinations can occur both in patients and in mentally healthy people.

Research on the nature of this phenomenon has been going on for quite a long time: psychiatrists and psychologists have been trying to understand the causes and phenomenology of auditory hallucinations for about a hundred years (and maybe longer). In the last three decades, it became possible to use encephalograms, which helped researchers of that time to understand what was happening in the brain during moments of auditory hallucinations. And now we can look at its different parts involved in these periods using functional magnetic resonance scanning or positron tomography. These technologies have helped psychologists and psychiatrists develop models of auditory hallucinations in the brain, mostly related to the function of language and speech.

Proposed theories for the mechanisms of auditory hallucinations

Some studies have shown that when patients experience auditory hallucinations, that is, they hear voices, activity in a part of their brain called Broca's area increases. This area is located in the small frontal lobe of the brain and is responsible for speech production: when you speak, it is Broca's area that works. One of the first to investigate this phenomenon were professors Philip McGuire and Suchy Shergill from King's College London. They noticed that their patients' Broca's area was more active during auditory hallucinations compared to when the voices were silent. This suggests that auditory hallucinations are produced by the speech and language centers of our brain. The results of these studies led to the creation of internal speech models of auditory hallucinations.

When we think about something, we generate inner speech - an inner voice that voices our thinking. For example, when we ask the question "What am I going to eat for lunch?" or “What will the weather be like tomorrow?”, we generate inner speech and are believed to activate Broca’s area. But how does this inner speech begin to be perceived by the brain as external, not coming from itself? According to intra-speech models of auditory verbal hallucinations, such voices are thoughts generated inside the consciousness or internal speech, somehow incorrectly defined as external, alien. More complex models of the process of how we track our own inner speech follow from this.

© Kate MacDowell

English neuroscientist and neuropsychologist Chris Frith and others have suggested that when we engage in thinking and internal speech, Broca's area sends a signal to an area of ​​our auditory cortex called Wernicke's area. This signal contains information that the speech we perceive is generated by us. This is because the transmitted signal is supposed to dampen the neuronal activity of the sensory cortex, so it is not activated as much as it is from external stimuli, such as someone talking to you. This model is known as the self-monitoring model, and it suggests that people with auditory hallucinations are deficient in this process, causing them to be unable to distinguish between internal and external speech. Although the evidence for this theory is rather weak at the moment, it is certainly one of the most influential models of auditory hallucinations that have emerged over the past 20 to 30 years.

Consequences of hallucinations

About 70% of patients with schizophrenia hear voices to some extent. They are treatable, but not always. Usually (though not in all cases) votes have a negative impact on the quality of life and health. For example, patients who hear voices and do not respond to treatment have an increased risk of suicide (sometimes voices call for self-harm). One can imagine how hard it is for people even in everyday situations, when they constantly hear humiliating and insulting words addressed to them.

But auditory hallucinations do not only occur in people with mental disorders. Moreover, these voices are not always evil. Thus, Marius Romm and Sandra Escher lead a very active "Society of Hearing Voices" - a movement that speaks about their positive aspects and fights against their stigmatization. Many people who hear voices live active and happy lives, so we cannot assume that voices are inherently bad. Yes, they are often associated with aggressive, paranoid and anxious behavior of patients, but it may be due to emotional distress, and not the presence of voices. Nor is it surprising that the anxiety and paranoia that are often at the core of mental illness show up in what these voices say. But, as already mentioned, many people without a psychiatric diagnosis state that they hear voices, and for them this can be a positive experience, since voices can calm or even suggest the direction in which to move in life. Professor Iris Sommer from the Netherlands has carefully studied this phenomenon: the healthy people she studied, hearing voices, described them as something positive, useful and giving self-confidence.

Treating hallucinations

People diagnosed with schizophrenia are usually treated with antipsychotic medications that block postsynaptic dopamine receptors in the striatum, the brain's striatum. Antipsychotics are effective in many cases: as a result of treatment, psychotic symptoms subside, especially auditory hallucinations and mania. Some patients, however, do not respond well to antipsychotics. Approximately 25-30% of patients who hear voices are almost unaffected by drugs. Antipsychotics also have serious side effects, so these medications are not suitable for all patients.

For other methods, there are many options for non-pharmacological treatment. Their degree of effectiveness also varies. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Its use for the treatment of psychosis is somewhat controversial, as many researchers believe that it has little effect on the symptoms and overall outcome of the disease. But there are types of CBT designed specifically for patients who hear voices. This therapy is usually aimed at changing the patient's attitude towards the voice so that the latter is perceived as less negative and unpleasant. The effectiveness of this treatment remains in question.

I am currently leading a study at King's College London to see if we can teach patients to self-regulate neural activity in the auditory cortex. This is achieved with the help of neural feedback, which is sent in real time using MRI. An MRI scanner is used to measure the signal coming from the auditory cortex. This signal is then sent back to the patient via a visual interface, which the patient must learn to control (that is, move the lever up and down). It is expected that we will be able to teach voice-hearing patients to control the activity of their auditory cortex, which in turn may allow them to better control their voices. Researchers are not yet sure whether this method will be clinically effective, but some preliminary data will be available in the next few months.

Population prevalence

About 24 million people worldwide are living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and about 60% or 70% of them have heard voices. There is evidence that from 5% to 10% of the population without a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives also heard them. Some of us sometimes thought that someone was calling us by name, and then it turned out that there was no one around. So there is evidence that auditory hallucinations are more common than we think, although accurate epidemiological statistics are hard to come by.

The most famous person who heard voices was probably Joan of Arc. From modern history, one can recall Syd Barrett, the founder of the Pink Floyd group, who suffered from schizophrenia and auditory hallucinations. But, again, someone can draw inspiration for art from voices, and some even experience musical hallucinations - something like vivid auditory images - but scientists still doubt whether they can be equated with hallucinations.

Unanswered questions

Science currently does not have a clear answer to the question of what happens in the brain when a person hears voices. Another problem is that researchers do not yet know why people perceive them as aliens coming from an external source. It is important to try to understand the phenomenological aspect of what exactly people experience when they hear a voice. For example, when tired or on stimulants, they may experience hallucinations, but not necessarily perceive them as coming from outside. The question is why do people lose the sense of their own activity when they hear voices. Even if we believe that the cause of auditory hallucinations is an excessive activity of the auditory cortex, why do people still think that God, a secret agent or an alien is talking to them? It is also important to study the belief systems that people build around their voices.

The content of auditory hallucinations and their source is another problem: do these voices come from inner speech or are they stored memories? What can be said with certainty is that this sensory experience involves the activation of the auditory cortex in the speech and language areas. This does not tell us anything about the emotional content of these messages, which are often negative, which, in turn, implies that the reason may also be in problems in processing emotional information that arise in the brain. In addition, two people can experience hallucinations very differently, which means that the brain mechanisms involved can also be very different.

Science: Science and technology: Lenta.ru

A still from the film "The Lord of the Rings"

Neuroscientists from the Children's Research Hospital of St. miRNA) contained in a specific region of the brain. The scientists presented their findings in an article published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which there is a breakdown of the human personality and a decrease in intelligence. The thoughts of patients often turn into nonsense, it seems to them that someone is following them, and ordinary everyday problems are seen as complex conspiracy theories. One of the most frightening symptoms is auditory hallucinations, which are common not only to this disorder, but to many others. It seems to the patient that someone is talking to him, and the voice comes from his own head. He can simply comment on the actions of a person or encourage him to do bad deeds.

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Despite the beliefs of some people who believe that these voices belong to supernatural forces, and exorcism rites will help get rid of them, schizophrenia and its symptoms are just the result of brain malfunction. According to some researchers, the mysterious voice that a sick person hears is in fact his own thoughts, although it seems to the patient that these thoughts do not belong to him. The reason for this phenomenon may be a failure in the activity of neural connections, for example, the connections of nerve fibers connecting the thalamus with the auditory zone of the cerebral cortex. This disorder is associated with auditory hallucinations. As scientists have shown in mice, the failure of the circuit is due to the 22q11DS mutation. As a result, Di George's syndrome develops, a rare congenital disease in which the development of the thymus is disturbed, dysfunction of the immune system occurs due to a sharp decrease in the population of T-lymphocytes. In 23-43 percent of cases, this mutation leads to the development of schizophrenia, accompanied by auditory hallucinations. This symptom can be relieved by taking antipsychotics.

However, the problem is that antipsychotic drugs that act on dopamine production cause serious side effects. One of them is neuroleptic malignant syndrome, muscle rigidity, fever (hyperthermia) and mental disorders. Complications can affect various organ systems and even lead to death.


Photo: Wikipedia

How can a person be cured of "voices in the head" without the risks associated with antipsychotics? In their research, the scientists analyzed the case of auditory hallucinations in a mouse model, although the animals themselves do not suffer from such a disorder. The researchers used mice with the 22q11DS mutation. In these animals, the long arm of the 22nd chromosome is devoid of the central region of DNA. In this case, the organism loses the Dgcr8 gene. It has been shown that its absence in patients with DiGeorg syndrome leads to impaired signal transmission from the thalamus to the auditory zone of the cerebral cortex. Normally functioning Dgcr8 ensures the synthesis of specific microRNAs - small non-coding RNA molecules (18-25 nucleotides long). Compounds belonging to this class suppress the activity of any particular gene.

If the Dgcr8 gene becomes inactive as a result of a mutation, miRNAs cease to form. As a result, there is no suppression of the expression of the gene responsible for the synthesis of a protein called the dopamine D2 receptor.

Dopamine receptors are proteins located in the membrane of neurons. The neurotransmitter dopamine binds to them, which is released by neurons into the synaptic cleft. The D2 receptor, after contact with dopamine, is involved in reactions with other molecules, regulating various processes in the human nervous system. Its excess, like its deficiency, leads to serious diseases.

So, if the dopamine D2 receptor accumulates in the thalamus, then the neural circuit starts to behave incorrectly. For example, insufficient prepulse inhibition (PPI) occurs. In this case, there is no decrease in the body's motor response to a strong sharp stimulus in the presence of a weak preliminary stimulus (prepulse). In other words, a person cannot be prepared for a strong stimulus (for example, a sharp loud sound) if he is first exposed to a weak one. Insufficient PPI is seen in schizophrenia, panic disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.

John Nash, a mathematician-economist who suffered from schizophrenia and auditory hallucinations

Photo: Elke Wetzig / Wikipedia

Scientists have been able to confirm the link between impaired neural circuits associated with auditory hallucinations and a lack of a special type of microRNA - miR-338-3p . The researchers microinjected these molecules into thalamic neurons, resulting in the restoration of normal activity in the neuronal fibers between the thalamus and the auditory cortex. Insufficient amount of miR-338-3p in patients with schizophrenia is the reason for the increase in the concentration of the mediator in the neurons of the auditory part of the thalamus.

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