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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 7453149, 13 pages
Research Article

Human Auditory and Adjacent Nonauditory Cerebral Cortices Are Hypermetabolic in Tinnitus as Measured by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)

1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Kresge Hearing Research Institute, The University of Michigan, 1100 W Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2Center for Human Growth and Development, The University of Michigan, 1100 W Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Received 13 September 2015; Revised 26 January 2016; Accepted 7 February 2016

Academic Editor: Lin Xu

Copyright © 2016 Mohamad Issa 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.


Tinnitus is the phantom perception of sound in the absence of an acoustic stimulus. To date, the purported neural correlates of tinnitus from animal models have not been adequately characterized with translational technology in the human brain. The aim of the present study was to measure changes in oxy-hemoglobin concentration from regions of interest (ROI; auditory cortex) and non-ROI (adjacent nonauditory cortices) during auditory stimulation and silence in participants with subjective tinnitus appreciated equally in both ears and in nontinnitus controls using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Control and tinnitus participants with normal/near-normal hearing were tested during a passive auditory task. Hemodynamic activity was monitored over ROI and non-ROI under episodic periods of auditory stimulation with 750 or 8000 Hz tones, broadband noise, and silence. During periods of silence, tinnitus participants maintained increased hemodynamic responses in ROI, while a significant deactivation was seen in controls. Interestingly, non-ROI activity was also increased in the tinnitus group as compared to controls during silence. The present results demonstrate that both auditory and select nonauditory cortices have elevated hemodynamic activity in participants with tinnitus in the absence of an external auditory stimulus, a finding that may reflect basic science neural correlates of tinnitus that ultimately contribute to phantom sound perception.