The neural network of phantom sound changes over time: a comparison between recent-onset and chronic tinnitus patients


Sven Vanneste, as above.


Tinnitus is characterized by an ongoing conscious perception of a sound in the absence of any external sound source. Chronic tinnitus is notoriously characterized by its resistance to treatment. In the present study the objective was to verify whether the neural generators and/or the neural tinnitus network, evaluated through EEG recordings, change over time as previously suggested by MEG. We therefore analyzed the source-localized EEG recordings of a very homogenous group of left-sided narrow-band noise tinnitus patients. Results indicate that the generators involved in tinnitus of recent onset seem to change over time with increased activity in several brain areas [auditory cortex, supplementary motor area and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) plus insula], associated with a decrease in connectivity between the different auditory and nonauditory brain structures. An exception to this general connectivity decrease is an increase in gamma-band connectivity between the left primary and secondary auditory cortex and the left insula, and also between the auditory cortices and the right dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. These networks are both connected to the left parahippocampal area. Thus acute and chronic tinnitus are related to differential activity and connectivity in a network comprising the auditory cortices, insula, dACC and premotor cortex.