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Electrical cortical stimulation (CS) of the auditory cortices has been shown to reduce the severity of debilitating tinnitus in some patients. In this study, we performed MEG source imaging of spontaneous brain activity during concurrent CS of the left secondary auditory cortex of a volunteer suffering from right unilateral tinnitus. CS produced MEG artifacts which were successfully sorted and removed using a combination of sensor and source level signal separation and classification techniques. This contribution provides the first proof of concept reporting on analysis of MEG data with concurrent CS. Effects of CS on ongoing brain activity were revealed at the MEG sensor and source levels and indicate CS significantly reduced ongoing brain activity in the lower frequency range (<40 Hz), and emphasized its higher (>40 Hz), gamma range components. Further, our results show that CS increased the spectral correlation across multiple frequency bands in the low and high gamma ranges, and between the alpha and beta bands of the MEG. Finally, MEG sources localized in the auditory cortices and nearby regions exhibited abnormal spectral activity that was suppressed by CS. These results provide promising evidence in favor of the thalamocortical dysrhytmia (TCD) hypothesis of tinnitus, and suggest that CS may prove to be an effective treatment of tinnitus when targeted to brain regions exhibiting abnormal spontaneous activity.
Date of Conference: 3-6 Sept. 2009