Reorganization of auditory cortex in tinnitus

Academic Article


  • Magnetic source imaging was used to determine whether tonotopy in auditory cortex of individuals with tinnitus diverges from normative functional organization. Ten tinnitus subjects and 15 healthy controls were exposed to four sets of tones while magnetoencephalograpbic recordings were obtained from the two cortical hemispheres in sequence. A marked shift of the cortical representation of the tinnitus frequency into an area adjacent to the expected tonotopic location was observed. The Euclidean distance of the tinnitus frequency from the trajectory of the tonotopic map was 5.3 mm (SD = 3.1) compared with a distance of 2.5 mm (SD = 1.3) of a corresponding frequency in the healthy controls (t = 3.13, P < 0.01). In addition, a strong positive correlation was found between the subjective strength of the tinnitus and the amount of cortical reorganization (r = 0.82, P < 0.01). These results demonstrate that tinnitus is related to plastic alterations in auditory cortex. Similarities between these data and the previous demonstrations that phantom limb pain is highly correlated with cortical reorganization suggest that tinnitus may be an auditory phantom phenomenon.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mühlnickel W; Elbert T; Taub E; Flor H
  • Start Page

  • 10340
  • End Page

  • 10343
  • Volume

  • 95
  • Issue

  • 17