The most common consequences of acute acoustic trauma (AAT) are hearing loss at frequencies above 3 kHz and tinnitus. In this study, we have used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to visualize neuronal activation patterns in military adults with AAT and various tinnitus sequelae during an auditory "oddball" attention task. AAT subjects displayed overactivities principally during reflex of target sound detection, in sensorimotor areas and in emotion-related areas such as the insula, anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex, in premotor area, in cross-modal sensory associative areas, and, interestingly, in a region of the Rolandic operculum that has recently been shown to be involved in tympanic movements due to air pressure. We propose further investigations of this brain area and fine middle ear investigations, because our results might suggest a model in which AAT tinnitus may arise as a proprioceptive illusion caused by abnormal excitability of middle-ear muscle spindles possibly link with the acoustic reflex and associated with emotional and sensorimotor disturbances.
Keywords: Acoustic trauma; Middle ear; Proprioception; Tinnitus; fMRI.