The Effects of Neurofeedback on Oscillatory Processes Related to Tinnitus
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Although widely used, no proof exists for the feasibility of neurofeedback for reinstating the disordered excitatory–inhibitory balance, marked by a decrease in auditory alpha power, in tinnitus patients. The current study scrutinizes the ability of neurofeedback to focally increase alpha power in auditory areas in comparison to the more common rTMS. Resting-state MEG was measured before and after neurofeedback (n = 8) and rTMS (n = 9) intervention respectively. Source level power and functional connectivity were analyzed with a focus on the alpha band. Only neurofeedback produced a significant decrease in tinnitus symptoms and—more important for the context of the study—a spatially circumscribed increase in alpha power in right auditory regions. Connectivity analysis revealed higher outgoing connectivity in a region ultimately neighboring the area in which power increases were observed. Neurofeedback decreases tinnitus symptoms and increases alpha power in a spatially circumscribed manner. In addition, compared to a more established brain stimulation-based intervention, neurofeedback is a promising approach to renormalize the excitatory–inhibitory imbalance putatively underlying tinnitus. This study is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of focally enhancing alpha activity in tinnitus patients by means of neurofeedback.
KeywordsTinnitus Neurofeedback rTMS MEG Auditory alpha Tau rhythm
The authors wish to thank Daria Laptinskaya, Gabriela Salagean, Hadas Gorodetzky, Sylvie Roth and Christiane Wolf for their help in acquiring the data and Ken Gildner for language editing. This study was supported by the Tinnitus Research Initiative (Grant No: TE 06 02), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant No: WE 4156/2-1) and the Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg (Grant No: 33-7532.20/627).
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