Long-Term Effects of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Tinnitus in a Guinea Pig Model

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The auditory phantom sensation of tinnitus is associated with neural hyperactivity. Modulating this hyperactivity using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has shown beneficial effects in human studies. Previously, we investigated rTMS in a tinnitus animal model and showed that rTMS over prefrontal cortex (PFC) attenuated tinnitus soon after treatment, likely via indirect effects on auditory pathways. Here, we explored the duration of these beneficial effects. Acoustic trauma was used to induce hearing loss and tinnitus in guinea pigs. Once tinnitus developed, high-frequency (20 Hz), high-intensity rTMS was applied over PFC for two weeks (weekdays only; 10 min/day). Behavioral signs of tinnitus were monitored for 6 weeks after treatment ended. Tinnitus developed in 77% of animals between 13 and 60 days post-trauma. rTMS treatment significantly reduced the signs of tinnitus at 1 week on a group level, but individual responses varied greatly at week 2 until week 6. Three (33%) of the animals showed the attenuation of tinnitus for the full 6 weeks, 45% for 1–4 weeks and 22% were non-responders. This study provides further support for the efficacy of high-frequency repetitive stimulation over the PFC as a therapeutic tool for tinnitus, but also highlights individual variation observed in human studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1096
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2022


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