New findings support the view that tinnitus could be a proprioceptive illusion related to the middle-ear muscles

This new model of tinnitus is NOT directly linked to hearing loss and primary auditory cortex abnormalities… but with a simultaneous premotor ear-eye disturbance…

Could this “disturbed crosstalk between the ear and eye systems” also explain why so many tinnitus patients also suffer from visual snow? Hmmmm…

Here is a link to the full pre-print paper (not yet peer-reviewed):

Specific connectivity with Operculum 3 (OP3) brain region in acoustic trauma tinnitus: a seed-based resting state fMRI study


Tinnitus mechanisms remain poorly understood. Our previous functional MRI (fMRI) studies demonstrated an abnormal hyperactivity in the right parietal operculum 3 (OP3) in acoustic trauma tinnitus and during provoked phantom sound perceptions without hearing loss, which lead us to propose a new model of tinnitus. This new model is not directly linked with hearing loss and primary auditory cortex abnormalities, but with a proprioceptive disturbance related to middle-ear muscles. In the present study, a seed-based resting-state functional MRI method was used to explore the potential abnormal connectivity of this opercular region between an acoustic trauma tinnitus group presenting slight to mild tinnitus and a control group. Primary auditory cortex seeds were also explored because they were thought to be directly involved in tinnitus in most current models. In such a model, hearing loss and tinnitus handicap were confounding factors and were therefore regressed in our analysis. Between-groups comparisons showed a significant specific connectivity between the right OP3 seeds and the potential human homologue of the premotor ear-eye field (H-PEEF) bilaterally and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) in the tinnitus group. Our findings suggest the existence of a simultaneous premotor ear-eye disturbance in tinnitus that could lift the veil on unexplained subclinical abnormalities in oculomotor tests found in tinnitus patients with normal vestibular responses. The present work confirms the involvement of the OP3 subregion in acoustic trauma tinnitus and provides some new clues to explain its putative mechanisms.



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