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Open Access Research article

Does a single session of theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation of inferior temporal cortex affect tinnitus perception?

Csaba Poreisz1*, Walter Paulus12, Tobias Moser23 and Nicolas Lang14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neurophysiology Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany

2 Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Göttingen, Germany

3 InnerEarLab, Department of Otolaryngology, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany

4 Department of Neurology, Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:54  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-54

Published: 29 May 2009

Abstract

Background

Cortical excitability changes as well as imbalances in excitatory and inhibitory circuits play a distinct pathophysiological role in chronic tinnitus. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the temporoparietal cortex was recently introduced to modulate tinnitus perception. In the current study, the effect of theta-burst stimulation (TBS), a novel rTMS paradigm was investigated in chronic tinnitus. Twenty patients with chronic tinnitus completed the study. Tinnitus severity and loudness were monitored using a tinnitus questionnaire (TQ) and a visual analogue scale (VAS) before each session. Patients received 600 pulses of continuous TBS (cTBS), intermittent TBS (iTBS) and intermediate TBS (imTBS) over left inferior temporal cortex with an intensity of 80% of the individual active or resting motor threshold. Changes in subjective tinnitus perception were measured with a numerical rating scale (NRS).

Results

TBS applied to inferior temporal cortex appeared to be safe. Although half of the patients reported a slight attenuation of tinnitus perception, group analysis resulted in no significant difference when comparing the three specific types of TBS. Converting the NRS into the VAS allowed us to compare the time-course of aftereffects. Only cTBS resulted in a significant short-lasting improvement of the symptoms. In addition there was no significant difference when comparing the responder and non-responder groups regarding their anamnestic and audiological data. The TQ score correlated significantly with the VAS, lower loudness indicating less tinnitus distress.

Conclusion

TBS does not offer a promising outcome for patients with tinnitus in the presented study.