Enhancing inhibition-induced plasticity in tinnitus--spectral energy contrasts in tailor-made notched music matter

PLoS One. 2015 May 7;10(5):e0126494. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126494. eCollection 2015.


Chronic tinnitus seems to be caused by reduced inhibition among frequency selective neurons in the auditory cortex. One possibility to reduce tinnitus perception is to induce inhibition onto over-activated neurons representing the tinnitus frequency via tailor-made notched music (TMNM). Since lateral inhibition is modifiable by spectral energy contrasts, the question arises if the effects of inhibition-induced plasticity can be enhanced by introducing increased spectral energy contrasts (ISEC) in TMNM. Eighteen participants suffering from chronic tonal tinnitus, pseudo randomly assigned to either a classical TMNM or an ISEC-TMNM group, listened to notched music for three hours on three consecutive days. The music was filtered for both groups by introducing a notch filter centered at the individual tinnitus frequency. For the ISEC-TMNM group a frequency bandwidth of 3/8 octaves on each side of the notch was amplified, additionally, by about 20 dB. Before and after each music exposure, participants rated their subjectively perceived tinnitus loudness on a visual analog scale. During the magnetoencephalographic recordings, participants were stimulated with either a reference tone of 500 Hz or a test tone with a carrier frequency representing the individual tinnitus pitch. Perceived tinnitus loudness was significantly reduced after TMNM exposure, though TMNM type did not influence the loudness ratings. Tinnitus related neural activity in the N1m time window and in the so called tinnitus network comprising temporal, parietal and frontal regions was reduced after TMNM exposure. The ISEC-TMNM group revealed even enhanced inhibition-induced plasticity in a temporal and a frontal cortical area. Overall, inhibition of tinnitus related neural activity could be strengthened in people affected with tinnitus by increasing spectral energy contrast in TMNM, confirming the concepts of inhibition-induced plasticity via TMNM and spectral energy contrasts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology*

Grants and funding

This research was supported by the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum fuer Klinische Forschung (IZKF, CRA05) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, PA 392/14-1).