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Neuromagnetic Source Imaging of Abnormal Spontaneous Activity in Tinnitus Patient Modulated by Electrical Cortical Stimulation

ABSTRACT Electrical cortical stimulation (CS) of the auditory cortices has been shown to reduce the severity of debilitating tinnitus in some patients. In this study, we performed MEG source imaging of spontaneous brain activity during concurrent CS of the left secondary auditory cortex of a volunteer suffering from right unilateral tinnitus. CS produced MEG artifacts which were successfully sorted and removed using a combination of sensor and source level signal separation and classification techniques. This contribution provides the first proof of concept reporting on analysis of MEG data with concurrent CS. Effects of CS on ongoing brain activity were revealed at the MEG sensor and source levels and indicate CS significantly reduced ongoing brain activity in the lower frequency range (<40Hz), and emphasized its higher (>40Hz), gamma range components. Further, our results show that CS increased the spectral correlation across multiple frequency bands in the low and high gamma ranges, and between the alpha and beta bands of the MEG. Finally, MEG sources localized in the auditory cortices and nearby regions exhibited abnormal spectral activity that was suppressed by CS. These results provide promising evidence in favor of the Thalamocortical Dysrhytmia (TCD) hypothesis of tinnitus, and suggest that CS may prove to be an effective treatment of tinnitus when targeted to brain regions exhibiting abnormal spontaneous activity.

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Available from: Sylvain Baillet, Aug 31, 2015
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    • "Given the mechanism of central maladaptive plasticity associated with sensory deafferentation, it has been proposed that interfering with this pathological thalamo-cortical activity is possible, both with invasive (18, 21, 22) and non-invasive neuromodulation (23, 24). Non-invasive neuromodulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) (23, 25–31) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) (27, 31–33) have emerged as interesting and promising techniques for modulating tinnitus related activity (23). "
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    ABSTRACT: Tinnitus is the perception of a sound in the absence of an external sound stimulus. This phantom sound has been related to plastic changes and hyperactivity in the auditory cortex. Different neuromodulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have been used in an attempt to modify local and distant neuroplasticity as to reduce tinnitus symptoms. Recently, two techniques of pulsed electrical stimulation using weak electrical currents - transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) and transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) - have also shown significant neuromodulatory effects. In the present study we conducted the first head-to-head comparison of three different transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) techniques, namely tDCS, tACS, and tRNS in 111 tinnitus patients by placing the electrodes overlying the auditory cortex bilaterally. The results demonstrated that tRNS induced the larger transient suppressive effect on the tinnitus loudness and the tinnitus related distress as compared to tDCS and tACS. Both tDCS and tACS induced small and non-significant effects on tinnitus symptoms, supporting the superior effects of tRNS as a method for tinnitus suppression.
    Frontiers in Psychiatry 12/2013; 4:158. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00158
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    • "On the cortical level it has been shown that oscillatory activity in the so-called alpha band (8–12 Hz), which has been related to inhibitory processes [21], is reduced in the auditory cortex of tinnitus patients [10]. Power increases were found for low frequencies in the delta [10] to theta range [20], [22], [23], [24] and in gamma power compared to normal hearing controls [7], [18], [25]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic tinnitus, the continuous perception of a phantom sound, is a highly prevalent audiological symptom. A promising approach for the treatment of tinnitus is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as this directly affects tinnitus-related brain activity. Several studies indeed show tinnitus relief after rTMS, however effects are moderate and vary strongly across patients. This may be due to a lack of knowledge regarding how rTMS affects oscillatory activity in tinnitus sufferers and which modulations are associated with tinnitus relief. In the present study we examined the effects of five different stimulation protocols (including sham) by measuring tinnitus loudness and tinnitus-related brain activity with Magnetoencephalography before and after rTMS. Changes in oscillatory activity were analysed for the stimulated auditory cortex as well as for the entire brain regarding certain frequency bands of interest (delta, theta, alpha, gamma). In line with the literature the effects of rTMS on tinnitus loudness varied strongly across patients. This variability was also reflected in the rTMS effects on oscillatory activity. Importantly, strong reductions in tinnitus loudness were associated with increases in alpha power in the stimulated auditory cortex, while an unspecific decrease in gamma and alpha power, particularly in left frontal regions, was linked to an increase in tinnitus loudness. The identification of alpha power increase as main correlate for tinnitus reduction sheds further light on the pathophysiology of tinnitus. This will hopefully stimulate the development of more effective therapy approaches.
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    ABSTRACT: Functional imaging techniques have demonstrated a relationship between the intensity of tinnitus and the degree of reorganization of the primary auditory cortex. Studies in experimental animals and humans have revealed that tinnitus is associated with a synchronized hyperactivity in the auditory cortex and proposed that the underlying pathophysiological mechanism is thalamocortical dysrhythmia; hence, decreased auditory stimulation results in decreased firing rate, and decreased lateral inhibition. Consequently, the surrounding brain area becomes hyperactive, firing at gamma band rates; this is considered a necessary precondition of auditory consciousness, and also tinnitus. Synchronization of the gamma band activity could possibly induce a topographical reorganization based on Hebbian mechanisms. Therefore, it seems logical to try to suppress tinnitus by modifying the tinnitus-related auditory cortex reorganization and hyperactivity. This can be achieved using neuronavigation-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is capable of modulating cortical activity. If TMS is capable of suppressing tinnitus, the effect should be maintained by implanting electrodes over the area of electrophysiological signal abnormality on the auditory cortex. The results in the first patients treated by auditory cortex stimulation demonstrate a statistically significant tinnitus suppression in cases of unilateral pure tone tinnitus without suppression of white or narrow band noise. Hence, auditory cortex stimulation could become a physiologically guided treatment for a selected category of patients with severe tinnitus.
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