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Prog Brain Res. 2007;166:369-75.

TMS for treatment of chronic tinnitus: neurobiological effects.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstrasse 84, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.


Results of neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies suggest that some forms of chronic tinnitus can be regarded to be "hyperexcitability syndromes", caused by abnormal focal brain activity. Low frequency repetitive magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an efficient method to selectively reduce the abnormally increased activity in distinct cortical areas. An increasing amount of clinical data suggest that low frequency rTMS might be an effective therapy that is directed at the cause of some forms of chronic tinnitus. To further explore the underlying neurobiological mechanisms we investigated the effect of rTMS on cortical excitability in healthy human subjects using the protocol, which has been successfully used for the treatment of tinnitus. We determined different parameters of motor cortex excitability (resting motor threshold, RMT; active motor threshold, AMT; short intracortical inhibition, ICI; short intracortical facilitation, ICF; and the duration of the cortical silent period, CSP) before and after 5 days of low frequency rTMS (2000 stimuli/day at 110% of RMT) over the left auditory cortex. Five sessions of low frequency rTMS resulted in a significant prolongation of the CSP. All other signs of cortical excitability that we studied remained unchanged. These findings suggest, that low frequency rTMS may evoke long-term depression (LTD)-like effects resulting in enhancement of subcortical inhibition.

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