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PLoS One. 2008;3(11):e3720. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003720. Epub 2008 Nov 13.

Using auditory steady state responses to outline the functional connectivity in the tinnitus brain.

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Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2008;3(12). doi: 10.1371/annotation/c71826c3-da07-42e8-a563-bde0257a0845.



Tinnitus is an auditory phantom perception that is most likely generated in the central nervous system. Most of the tinnitus research has concentrated on the auditory system. However, it was suggested recently that also non-auditory structures are involved in a global network that encodes subjective tinnitus. We tested this assumption using auditory steady state responses to entrain the tinnitus network and investigated long-range functional connectivity across various non-auditory brain regions.


Using whole-head magnetoencephalography we investigated cortical connectivity by means of phase synchronization in tinnitus subjects and healthy controls. We found evidence for a deviating pattern of long-range functional connectivity in tinnitus that was strongly correlated with individual ratings of the tinnitus percept. Phase couplings between the anterior cingulum and the right frontal lobe and phase couplings between the anterior cingulum and the right parietal lobe showed significant condition x group interactions and were correlated with the individual tinnitus distress ratings only in the tinnitus condition and not in the control conditions.


To the best of our knowledge this is the first study that demonstrates existence of a global tinnitus network of long-range cortical connections outside the central auditory system. This result extends the current knowledge of how tinnitus is generated in the brain. We propose that this global extend of the tinnitus network is crucial for the continuos perception of the tinnitus tone and a therapeutical intervention that is able to change this network should result in relief of tinnitus.

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