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Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 2006 Dec;(556):102-5.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and chronic tinnitus.

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Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Germany.



There is a good theoretical basis and early research evidence suggesting that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may have treatment potential in tinnitus. Further studies with larger sample sizes and additional assessment of neurobiological effects are necessary.


Tinnitus is a common and often severely disabling disorder for which there is no satisfactory treatment. TMS is a new, non-invasive method of modifying the excitability of the cerebral cortex, which has proven effective in auditory hallucinations and other disorders. Some early studies have been published in which TMS has been used in the treatment of tinnitus. The objective of this paper is to examine the literature and consider the potential for TMS as a therapy in tinnitus.


A thorough search of the tinnitus and TMS literature was conducted, and all available relevant material was examined.


Tinnitus is common, with a prevalence of 8.2% in subjects aged 50 years and over, and may be associated with great distress (tinnitus sufferers). There are no effective treatments. Tinnitus is frequently associated with deafness, and may be the result of a pathological plasticity process. Neuroimaging studies demonstrate increased activity within the central auditory system. TMS is a non-invasive method of modulating excitability in cerebral cortex. It uses electromagnetic principles and has been successfully employed in the treatment of other conditions associated with increased activity of the cerebral cortex. Meanwhile, a growing number of studies suggest that repetitive TMS may be effective in the treatment of chronic tinnitus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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