Chronic Tinnitus May Mean Less Rest for the Brain Changes to certain networks in the brain that heighten alertness were associated with chronic tinnitus in a recent study. Published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical, the study included six groups of adult participants. Two of the groups were controls (one group with hearing loss, the other with normal hearing), while ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   November 01, 2017
Chronic Tinnitus May Mean Less Rest for the Brain
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Hearing Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   November 01, 2017
Chronic Tinnitus May Mean Less Rest for the Brain
The ASHA Leader, November 2017, Vol. 22, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22112017.16
The ASHA Leader, November 2017, Vol. 22, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22112017.16
Published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical, the study included six groups of adult participants. Two of the groups were controls (one group with hearing loss, the other with normal hearing), while the remaining four tinnitus groups were divided into subgroups: 13 patients with mild, long-term tinnitus (mean age 55), 12 patients with mild, recent-onset tinnitus (mean age 48), 17 patients also with mild, long-term tinnitus (mean age 51) and 15 patients with bothersome, long-term tinnitus (mean age 50).

As the severity of the tinnitus increased, so did the observed effects on the neural networks.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used functional MRI to look for patterns across brain function and structure. For the long-term tinnitus groups, the brain’s precuneus appeared more connected to the dorsal attention network (which activates when something catches a person’s attention) and less connected to the default mode network (associated with the resting brain).
Further, as the severity of the tinnitus increased, so did the observed effects on the neural networks. However, researchers did not observe differences in the precuneus connectivity of the recent-onset tinnitus group.
“When the default mode network is on, the dorsal attention network is off, and vice versa,” says Sara Schmidt, first author of the paper. “We found that the precuneus in tinnitus patients seems to be playing a role in that relationship.”
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November 2017
Volume 22, Issue 11