Default, Cognitive, and Affective Brain Networks in Human Tinnitus
Technical Report,30 Sep 2014,29 Sep 2015
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Boston United States
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Tinnitus is a major health problem among those currently and formerly in military service. This project hypothesizes that many of the clinically-significant, non-auditory aspects of the tinnitus condition involve two major brain networks the cognitive control network CCN and the default mode network DMN. Using fMRI, we are examining brain activation in subjects performing cognitive tasks that engage the CCN and DMN. One task is heavily reliant on working memory N-back and the other on selective attention counting Stroop. Each task is conducted on auditory stimuli and, separately, on visual ones. A second version of the selective attention task includes emotional priming stimuli fearful faces so the effect of affect on CCNDMN function can be assessed. Subjects in three groups are being compared 1 control subjects with clinically-normal hearing thresholds and no tinnitus, 2 tinnitus subjects matched in hearing to the controls, 3 tinnitus subjects with bilateral high frequency hearing loss. So far twenty-one subjects have been behaviorally tested and imaged. Preliminarily, the results support our hypothesis that people with tinnitus may exert greater cognitive effort in order to achieve the same level of outward performance as non-tinnitus controls on challenging cognitive tasks. The data are also beginning to suggest particular brain areas within the CCN, especially, that may warrant targeting for treatment andor monitoring to quantify treatment efficacy.