Clinical as well as neurophysiological and neuroimaging data suggest that chronic tinnitus resembles neuropsychiatric syndromes characterized by focal brain activation. Low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been proposed as an efficient method in treating brain hyperexcitability disorders by reducing cortical excitability.
In three patients suffering from chronic tinnitus, the effect of magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography guided neuronavigated 1 Hz rTMS on auditory cortex activity was evaluated, using a sham controlled double-blind crossover design.
Two of three patients revealed clearly increased metabolic activity in circumscript areas of the primary auditory cortex (PAC), allowing a selective stimulation of these cortical areas with low-frequency rTMS. Considerable improvement in tinnitus was achieved in these patients.
Neuronavigated rTMS of increased PAC activity may help to better understand the neuronal basis of chronic tinnitus and might offer a new option for treating auditory phantom perceptions like chronic tinnitus.
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Accepted: November 7, 2002
Received in revised form: November 4, 2002
Received: August 22, 2002
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