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Tinnitus and brain activation: Insights from transcranial magnetic stimulation

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April 1, 2006
by Renata Marcondes, MD; Felipe Fregni, MD, PhD; Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD
The mechanisms underlying tinnitus are still not completely elucidated, but advances in neuroimaging and brain stimulation have provided us with new insights. Evidence suggests that tinnitus might actually be generated by central rather than peripheral structures. To illustrate the importance of brain activity changes in the pathology of tinnitus, we report the cases of 2 patients who experienced a recurrence/worsening of their tinnitus after they had undergone treatment for major depression with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. We suggest that the tinnitus in these 2 patients was induced by changes in brain activity resulting from transcranial magnetic stimulation of the prefrontal cortex. We also review the pathophysiology and other aspects of tinnitus, focusing on associated brain reorganization.

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