Tinnitus and oscillatory brain activity

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Different clinically-relevant tinnitus characteristics show distinctive associations with spontaneous brain oscillatory power, according to a German study. The study revealed that resting state oscillatory brain activity recorded electroencephalographically from 46 male tinnitus patients showed a positive correlation between gamma band oscillations and psychoacoustic tinnitus loudness determined with the reconstructed tinnitus sound, but not with the other psychoacoustic loudness measures that were used. Tinnitus-related distress also correlated with delta band activity, but at electrode positions different from those associated with tinnitus loudness. In addition, highly distressed tinnitus patients exhibited a higher level of theta band activity. Mean hearing loss between 0.125 kHz and 16 kHz was also associated with a decrease in gamma activity, whereas minimum masking levels correlated positively with delta band power. In contrast, psychological comorbidities did not express significant correlations with oscillatory brain activity. “Hearing loss and minimum masking level correlate with oscillatory power in distinctive frequency bands,” says the authors. “The lack of an association between psychological comorbidities and oscillatory power may be attributed to the overall low level of mental health problems in the present sample.”

Source: PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53180. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053180.

Rose Simpson