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Neuromagnetic indicators of tinnitus and tinnitus masking in patients with and without hearing loss

Adjamian, Peyman; Sereda, Magdalena; Zobay, Oliver; Hall, Deborah A.; Palmer, Alan R.


Peyman Adjamian

Magdalena Sereda

Oliver Zobay

Deborah A. Hall

Alan R. Palmer


Tinnitus is an auditory phenomenon characterised by the perception of a sound in the absence of an external auditory stimulus. Chronic subjective tinnitus is almost certainly maintained via central mechanisms, and this is consistent with observed measures of altered spontaneous brain activity. A number of putative central auditory mechanisms for tinnitus have been proposed. The influential thalamocortical dysrhythmia model suggests that tinnitus can be attributed to the disruption of coherent oscillatory activity between thalamus and cortex following hearing loss. However, the extent to which this disruption specifically contributes to tinnitus or is simply a consequence of the hearing loss is unclear because the necessary matched controls have not been tested. Here, we rigorously test several predictions made by this model in four groups of participants (tinnitus with hearing loss, tinnitus with clinically normal hearing, no tinnitus with hearing loss and no tinnitus with clinically normal hearing). Magnetoencephalography was used to measure oscillatory brain activity within different frequency bands in a ‘resting’ state and during presentation of a masking noise. Results revealed that low-frequency activity in the delta band (1–4 Hz) was significantly higher in the ‘tinnitus with hearing loss’ group compared to the ‘no tinnitus with normal hearing’ group. A planned comparison indicated that this effect was unlikely to be driven by the hearing loss alone, but could possibly be a consequence of tinnitus and hearing loss. A further interpretative linkage to tinnitus was given by the result that the delta activity tended to reduce when tinnitus was masked. High-frequency activity in the gamma band (25–80 Hz) was not correlated with tinnitus (or hearing loss). The findings partly support the thalamocortical dysrhythmia model and suggest that slow-wave (delta band) activity may be a more reliable correlate of tinnitus than high-frequency activity.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2012
Journal Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Print ISSN 1525-3961
Electronic ISSN 1525-3961
Publisher Humana Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 5
Institution Citation Adjamian, P., Sereda, M., Zobay, O., Hall, D. A., & Palmer, A. R. (2012). Neuromagnetic indicators of tinnitus and tinnitus masking in patients with and without hearing loss. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 13(5), doi:10.1007/s10162-012-0340-5
Keywords Thalamocortical dysrhythmia; tinnitus masking; magnetoencephalography; cortical oscillations
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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