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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2014, Article ID 468546, 13 pages
Research Article

Disentangling Tinnitus Distress and Tinnitus Presence by Means of EEG Power Analysis

1Neuroplasticity and Learning in the Healthy Aging Brain (HAB LAB), Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich, Andreasstrasse 15/2, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland
2International Normal Aging and Plasticity Imaging Center, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
3University Research Priority Program “Dynamics of Healthy Aging”, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
4Cognitive Psychology Unit (CPU), University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Austria
5Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
6Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST), University of the Arts (ZHdK), Zurich, Switzerland
7Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, USA
8Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
9City College New York, New York, NY, USA
10Child Mind Institute, New York, NY, USA
11Clinic for Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics “Hohenegg”, Meilen, Switzerland

Received 4 April 2014; Revised 3 July 2014; Accepted 16 July 2014; Published 3 September 2014

Academic Editor: Tobias Kleinjung

Copyright © 2014 Martin Meyer 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.


The present study investigated 24 individuals suffering from chronic tinnitus (TI) and 24 nonaffected controls (CO). We recorded resting-state EEG and collected psychometric data to obtain information about how chronic tinnitus experience affects the cognitive and emotional state of TI. The study was meant to disentangle TI with high distress from those who suffer less from persistent tinnitus based on both neurophysiological and behavioral data. A principal component analysis of psychometric data uncovers two distinct independent dimensions characterizing the individual tinnitus experience. These independent states are distress and presence, the latter is described as the perceived intensity of sound experience that increases with tinnitus duration devoid of any considerable emotional burden. Neuroplastic changes correlate with the two independent components. TI with high distress display increased EEG activity in the oscillatory range around 25 Hz (upper β-band) that agglomerates over frontal recording sites. TI with high presence show enhanced EEG signal strength in the δ-, α-, and lower γ-bands (30–40 Hz) over bilateral temporal and left perisylvian electrodes. Based on these differential patterns we suggest that the two dimensions, namely, distress and presence, should be considered as independent dimensions of chronic subjective tinnitus.