Influencing Connectivity and Cross-Frequency Coupling by Real-Time Source Localized Neurofeedback of the Posterior Cingulate Cortex Reduces Tinnitus Related Distress
De Ridder, Dirk
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Background: In this study we are using source localized neurofeedback to moderate tinnitus related distress by influencing neural activity of the target region as well as the connectivity within the default network. Hypothesis: We hypothesize that up-training alpha and down-training beta and gamma activity in the posterior cingulate cortex has a moderating effect on tinnitus related distress by influencing neural activity of the target region as well as the connectivity within the default network and other functionally connected brain areas. Methods: Fifty-eight patients with chronic tinnitus were included in the study. Twenty-three tinnitus patients received neurofeedback training of the posterior cingulate cortex with the aim of up-training alpha and down-training beta and gamma activity, while 17 patients underwent training of the lingual gyrus as a control situation. A second control group consisted of 18 tinnitus patients on a waiting list for future tinnitus treatment. Results: This study revealed that neurofeedback training of the posterior cingulate cortex results in a significant decrease of tinnitus related distress. No significant effect on neural activity of the target region could be obtained. However, functional and effectivity connectivity changes were demonstrated between remote brain regions or functional networks as well as by altering cross frequency coupling of the posterior cingulate cortex. Conclusion: This suggests that neurofeedback could remove the information, processed in beta and gamma, from the carrier wave, alpha, which transports the high frequency information and influences the salience attributed to the tinnitus sound. Based on the observation that much pathology is the result of an abnormal functional connectivity within and between neural networks various pathologies should be considered eligible candidates for the application of source localized EEG based neurofeedback training.