Previous studies have demonstrated that tinnitus is associated with neural changes in the cerebral cortex. This study is aimed at investigating the central nervous characteristics of tinnitus patients with different severity by using a rs-EEG.
Participants and Methods
rs-EEG was recorded in fifty-seven patients with chronic tinnitus and twenty-seven healthy controls. Tinnitus patients were divided into moderate-to-severe tinnitus group and slight-to-mild tinnitus group based on their Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) scores. Source localization and functional connectivity analyses were used to measure the changes in central levels and examine the altered network patterns. The correlation between functional connectivity and tinnitus severity was analyzed.
Compared to the healthy controls, all tinnitus patients showed significant activation in the auditory cortex (middle temporal lobe, BA 21), while moderate-to-severe tinnitus group showed enhanced connectivity between the parahippocampus and posterior cingulate gyrus. Moreover, the moderate-to-severe tinnitus group had enhanced functional connectivity between auditory cortex and insula compared to the slight-to-mild tinnitus group. The connections between the insula and the parahippocampal and posterior cingulate gyrus were positively correlated with THI scores.
The current study reveals that patients with moderate-to-severe tinnitus demonstrate greater changes in the central brain areas, including the auditory cortex, insula, parahippocampus and posterior cingulate gyrus. In addition, enhanced connections were found between the insula and the auditory cortex, as well as the posterior cingulate gyrus and the parahippocampus, which suggests abnormality in the auditory network, salience network, and default mode network. Specifically, the insula is the core region of the neural pathway that is composed of the auditory cortex, insula, and parahippocampus/posterior cingulate gyrus. This suggests that the severity of tinnitus is affected by multiple brain regions.
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This research was supported by the Project Fund of Zhuhai Science and Technology Innovation Bureau in 2022 (project number: 222000400085); National Natural Science Foundation of China (82271165 and 82071062); Key R&D Program of Guangdong Province, China (grant no. 2018B030339001); and Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (grant no. 2021A1515012038).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Xiong, B., Liu, Z., Li, J. et al. Abnormal Functional Connectivity Within Default Mode Network and Salience Network Related to Tinnitus Severity. JARO 24, 453–462 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10162-023-00905-2