Increased Frontal Response May Underlie Decreased Tinnitus Severity

Jake R. Carpenter-Thompson, Sara Schmidt, Edward McAuley, Fatima T. Husain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives The overall goal of the study was to identify functional and behavioral differences between individuals with higher tinnitus distress and individuals with lower tinnitus distress. Subsequent exploratory analyses were conducted to investigate the role physical activity may have on the observed results between high and low distress groups. The purpose of the experiment was to identify brain regions to be targeted in future intervention studies for tinnitus. Design A total of 32 individuals with varying levels of tinnitus severity were recruited from the Urbana-Champaign area. Volunteers were divided into higher tinnitus distress (HD) and lower tinnitus distress (LD) groups. Note that these groups also significantly differed based on physical activity level and were subsequently stratified into higher and lower physical activity level subgroups for exploratory analysis. While in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, subjects listened to affective sounds classified as pleasant, neutral or unpleasant from the International Affective Digital Sounds database. Results The HD group recruited amygdala and parahippocampus to a greater extent than the LD group when listening to affective sounds. The LD group engaged frontal regions to a greater extent when listening to the affective stimuli compared to the HD group. Both higher physical activity level subgroups recruited more frontal regions, and both lower levels of physical activity subgroups recruited more limbic regions respectively. Conclusion Individuals with lower tinnitus distress may utilize frontal regions to better control their emotional response to affective sounds. Our analysis also suggests physical activity may contribute to lower tinnitus severity and greater engagement of the frontal cortices. We suggest that future intervention studies focus on changes in the function of limbic and frontal regions when evaluating the efficacy of treatment. Additionally, we recommend further investigation concerning the impact of physical activity level on tinnitus distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0144419
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Increased Frontal Response May Underlie Decreased Tinnitus Severity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this