Real-time fMRI feedback training may improve chronic tinnitus (Neuroradiology, Basil).

Real-time fMRI feedback training may improve chronic tinnitus.

Eur Radiol. 2010 Mar;20(3):696-703. Epub 2009 Sep 16.
Haller S, Birbaumer N, Veit R.
Institute of Radiology, Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, CH 4031 Basel, Switzerland.

OBJECTIVES: Tinnitus consists of a more or less constant aversive tone or noise and is associated with excess auditory activation. Transient distortion of this activation (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, rTMS) may improve tinnitus. Recently proposed operant training in real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) neurofeedback allows voluntary modification of specific circumscribed neuronal activations. Combining these observations, we investigated whether patients suffering from tinnitus can (1) learn to voluntarily reduce activation of the auditory system by rtfMRI neurofeedback and whether (2) successful learning improves tinnitus symptoms.

METHODS: Six participants with chronic tinnitus were included. First, location of the individual auditory cortex was determined in a standard fMRI auditory block-design localizer. Then, participants were trained to voluntarily reduce the auditory activation (rtfMRI) with visual biofeedback of the current auditory activation.

RESULTS: Auditory activation significantly decreased after rtfMRI neurofeedback. This reduced the subjective tinnitus in two of six participants.

CONCLUSION: These preliminary results suggest that tinnitus patients learn to voluntarily reduce spatially specific auditory activations by rtfMRI neurofeedback and that this may reduce tinnitus symptoms. Optimized training protocols (frequency, duration, etc.) may further improve the results.

One Response to “Real-time fMRI feedback training may improve chronic tinnitus (Neuroradiology, Basil).”
  1. glenselanroj says:

    It is normal for anyone to experience having their ears ringing at some point, for short periods and at an infrequent rate. But if someone experiences hearing a buzzing ear sound as a continuous and everyday occurence, then that might be tinnitus. The person suffering from such must visit the ENT specialists to determine if it can be healed with proper therapy or with other tinnitus treatment.

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