Tinnitus is the perception of noises in the ear which do not originate from an acoustic signal in the environment.

It may consist of buzzing, ringing or hissing sounds heard in one or both ears.

Tinnitus usually appears in the second part of life, after 60 years. Indeed, it often accompanies the hearing loss on high frequencies related to aging (presbyacousis), but also the hearing loss related to exposure to noise of professional origin (construction workers, musicians) or during leisure activities like hunting and concerts.

MRI imaging has shown that chronic tinnitus is associated with an increase in activity of the temporo-parietal cerebral cortex. This fact has lead to use of TMS to relieve tinnitus, with encouraging results.

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Selected References

  • Barwood CH, Wilson WJ, Malicka AN, et al (2013). “The Effect of rTMS on Auditory Processing in Adults with Chronic, Bilateral Tinnitus: A Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study”. Brain Stimul. 2013 Sep;6(5):752-9.
  • De Ridder, D., E. Verstraeten, et al. (2005). “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Tinnitus:
    Influence of Tinnitus Duration on Stimulation Parameter Choice and Maximal Tinnitus Suppression.” Otol Neurotol 26(4): 616-619.
  • De Ridder, D., G. De Mulder, et al. (2007). “Auditory cortex stimulation for tinnitus.” Acta Neurochir Suppl 97(Pt. 2): 451-462.
  • Khedr, E. M., J. C. Rothwell, et al, (2009). “One-year follow up of patients with chronic tinnitus treated with left temporoparietal rTMS.” Eur J Neurol 16(3): 404-408
  • Lee, S. L., M. Abraham, et al. (2008). “Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in veterans with debilitating tinnitus: a pilot study.” Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 138(3): 398-399.
  • Marcondes, R. A., T. G. Sanchez, et al. (2009). “Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation improve tinnitus in normal hearing patients: a double-blind controlled, clinical and neuroimaging outcome study.” European Journal of Neurology: 1 – 7.

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*At this time, TMS is not FDA-approved for the treatment of tinnitus, which would be considered an off-label application.