Dopaminergic function in the psychosis spectrum: An [18F]-DOPA imaging study in healthy individuals with auditory hallucinations

Oliver D. Howes, Paul Shotbolt, Michael Bloomfield, Kirstin Daalman, Arsime Demjaha, Kelly M.J. Diederen, Kemal Ibrahim, Euitae Kim, Philip McGuire, René S. Kahn, Iris E. Sommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: The psychosis phenotype appears to exist in the population as a continuum, but it is not clear if subclinical psychotic symptoms and psychotic disorders share the same neurobiology. We investigated whether the dopaminergic dysfunction seen in psychotic disorders is also present in healthy, well-functioning people with hallucinations.Methods: We compared dopamine synthesis capacity (using 6-[18F]fluoro-L-DOPA [[18F]- DOPA] positron emission tomography imaging) in 16 healthy individuals with frequent persistent auditory verbal hallucinations (hallucinating group) with that in 16 matched controls. Results: There was no significant difference in dopamine synthesis capacity in the striatum, or its functional subdivisions, between groups and no relationship between subclinical psychotic symptom severity or schizotypal traits and dopamine synthesis capacity in the hallucinating group. Conclusions: Altered dopamine synthesis capacity is unlikely to underlie subclinical hallucinations, suggesting that although there may be a phenomenological psychosis continuum, there are distinctions at the neurobiological level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-814
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • PET
  • aetiology
  • dopamine
  • hallucination
  • neurochemistry
  • psychosis continuum
  • schizophrenia
  • subclinical
  • symptom


Dive into the research topics of 'Dopaminergic function in the psychosis spectrum: An [18F]-DOPA imaging study in healthy individuals with auditory hallucinations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this