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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2014, Article ID 132058, 10 pages
Research Article

Structural Brain Changes Following Left Temporal Low-Frequency rTMS in Patients with Subjective Tinnitus

1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstraße 84, 93053 Regensburg, Germany
2Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Center, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstraße 84, 93053 Regensburg, Germany
3Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, Social Foundation Bamberg, Buger Straße 80, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
4Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, kbo-Lech-Mangfall-Klinik Agatharied, Norbert-Kerkel-Platz, 83734 Hausham/Obb., Germany

Received 26 February 2014; Revised 6 May 2014; Accepted 14 May 2014; Published 3 June 2014

Academic Editor: Tobias Kleinjung

Copyright © 2014 Astrid Lehner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the temporal cortex has been used to treat patients with subjective tinnitus. While rTMS is known to induce morphological changes in healthy subjects, no study has investigated yet whether rTMS treatment induces grey matter (GM) changes in tinnitus patients as well, whether these changes are correlated with treatment success, and whether GM at baseline is a useful predictor for treatment outcome. Therefore, we examined magnetic resonance images of 77 tinnitus patients who were treated with rTMS of the left temporal cortex (10 days, 2000 stimuli/day, 1 Hz). At baseline and after the last treatment session high-resolution structural images of the brain were acquired and tinnitus severity was assessed. For a subgroup of 41 patients, additional brain scans were done after a follow-up period of 90 days. GM changes were analysed by means of voxel based morphometry. Transient GM decreases were detectable in several brain regions, especially in the insula and the inferior frontal cortex. These changes were not related to treatment outcome though. Baseline images correlated with change in tinnitus severity in the frontal cortex and the lingual gyrus, suggesting that GM at baseline might hold potential as a possible predictor for treatment outcome.