Counteracting tinnitus by acoustic coordinated reset neuromodulation
Purpose: Subjective tinnitus is associated with pathologic enhanced neuronal synchronization. We used a model based desynchronization technique, acoustic coordinated reset (CR) neuromodulation, to specifically counteract tinnitus-related neuronal synchrony thereby inducing an unlearning of pathological synaptic connectivity and neuronal synchrony. Methods: In a prospective, randomized, single blind, placebo-controlled trial in 63 patients with chronic tonal tinnitus and up to 50 dB hearing loss we studied safety and efficacy of different doses of acoustic CR neuromodulation. We measured visual analogue scale and tinnitus questionnaire (TQ) scores and spontaneous EEG. Results: CR treatment was safe, well-tolerated and caused a significant decrease of tinnitus loudness and symptoms. Placebo treatment did not lead to any significant changes. Effects gained in 12 weeks of treatment persisted through a preplanned 4-week therapy pause and showed sustained long-term effects after 10 months of therapy: Response, i.e. a reduction of at least 6 TQ points, was obtained in 75% of patients with a mean TQ reduction of 50% among responders. CR therapy significantly lowered tinnitus frequency and reversed the tinnitus related EEG alterations. Conclusion: The CR-induced reduction of tinnitus and underlying neuronal characteristics indicates a new non-invasive therapy which might also be applicable to other conditions with neuronal hypersynchrony.