A new concept for noninvasive tinnitus treatment utilizing multimodal pathways

Cory D. Gloeckner, Benjamin T. Smith, Craig D. Markovitz, Hubert H. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Current noninvasive treatments for tinnitus have shown mixed results. There have been encouraging developments in using invasive brain or vagal nerve stimulation to modulate neural populations driving the tinnitus percept. However, these invasive treatments can only be used in a small patient population with severe conditions. In this preliminary study, we present a new treatment option we call Multimodal Synchronization Therapy (MST), which attempts to achieve synchronized and localized brain activation without invasive neural stimulation. MST combines multiple sensory, motor, limbic, and cognitive inputs to elicit activation of multimodal neurons to potentially modulate specific neurons driving the tinnitus percept. We present preliminary data in a guinea pig model showing activation of somatosensory and auditory pathways to alter neural activity within the inferior colliculus, a multimodal integration region that has shown pathological changes in animals and patients with tinnitus. Electrical stimulation of different body locations induced excitatory responses in the inferior colliculus, eliciting responses in up to 41% of all recording sites for a given somatic site. Paired somatic and acoustic stimulation resulted in enhanced or suppressed acoustic-driven neural activity in the inferior colliculus that varied depending on stimulation and recording location. Similar modulation effects were observed in the auditory cortex, which may relate to changes in auditory perception. Further studies need to incorporate multiple multimodal pathways and must also confirm that MST can suppress the abnormal neural patterns that directly drive the tinnitus percept.

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