The differential effect of low- versus high-frequency random noise stimulation in the treatment of tinnitus
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Experimental brain research. - Berlin
, p. 1433-1440
University of Antwerp
Tinnitus is the sensation of a ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing sound in the absence of an external sound. As tinnitus has been related to hyperactivity and synaptic plasticity changes in the central auditory system, invasive and noninvasive neuromodulation methods have been used to interfere with this underlying mechanism to reduce tinnitus loudness and distress. Recently, transcranial random noise stimulation applied over the auditory cortex induced a more pronounced effect on tinnitus loudness than transcranial direct current and alternating current stimulation. We performed tRNS over the temporoparietal cortex in 154 patients with non-pulsatile tinnitus. A total of 119 patients received low-frequency tRNS (lf-tRNS), 19 high-frequency tRNS (hf-tRNS) and 16 whole frequency spectrum tRNS (wf-tRNS). The effect was evaluated by using the numeric rating scale loudness and distress pre- and post-stimulation. This study revealed a significant reduction in tinnitus loudness when lf-tRNS and hf-tRNS were applied as well as a reduction in tinnitus-related distress with lf-tRNS. Moreover, we observed a significantly more pronounced reduction in loudness and distress in pure tone (PT) tinnitus compared to narrow band noise (NBN) tinnitus when hf-tRNS was applied, a difference that could not be obtained with lf-tRNS. Based on these results, tRNS might be a promising treatment option for non-pulsatile tinnitus; however, we cannot yet provide a clear mechanistic explanation for the different results obtained with different types of stimulation, i.e., lf-tRNS, hf-tRNS and wf-tRNS, or with different types of tinnitus, i.e., PT and NBN tinnitus.