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      Multisite rTMS for the treatment of chronic tinnitus: stimulation of the cortical tinnitus network--a pilot study.

      Brain Topography

      Adult, Aged, Analysis of Variance, Antidepressive Agents, therapeutic use, Biophysics, Cerebral Cortex, pathology, physiology, Chi-Square Distribution, Chronic Disease, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pilot Projects, Temporal Lobe, Tinnitus, therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, methods

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          Low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the auditory cortex has been shown to significantly reduce tinnitus severity in some patients. There is growing evidence that a neural network of both auditory and non-auditory cortical areas is involved in the pathophysiology of chronic subjective tinnitus. Targeting several core regions of this network by rTMS might constitute a promising strategy to enhance treatment effects. This study intends to test the effects of a multisite rTMS protocol on tinnitus severity. 45 patients with chronic tinnitus were treated with multisite stimulation (left dorsolateral prefrontal, 2,000 stimuli, 20 Hz; left temporoparietal, 1,000 stimuli, 1 Hz; right temporoparietal, 1,000 stimuli, 1 Hz). Results were compared with a historical control group consisting of 29 patients who received left temporal stimulation (2,000 stimuli, 1 Hz). Both groups were treated on ten consecutive working days. Tinnitus severity was assessed at three time points: at baseline, after the last treatment session (day 12) and after a follow-up period of 90 days. A change of tinnitus severity over time was tested using repeated measures ANOVA with the between-subjects factor treatment group. Both groups improved similarly from baseline to day 12. However, there was a difference on day 90: the multisite stimulation group showed an overall improvement whereas patients receiving temporal stimulation returned to their baseline level of tinnitus severity. These pilot data suggest that multisite rTMS is superior to temporal rTMS and represents a promising strategy for enhancing treatment effects of rTMS in tinnitus. Future studies should explore this new protocol with respect to clinical and neurobiological effects in more detail.

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