MRI Study of Noninvasive Transcranial Electrical Stimulation in Tinnitus

    Not Recruiting
  • End date
    Dec 24, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Northwestern University
Updated on 8 August 2022


The purpose of this research is to understand how a neuromodulation technique, transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), affects brain function in adults with chronic tinnitus measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We hypothesize that multiple sessions of tES (5 consecutive days) will modulate:

  1. Overall activity and local connectivity within brain regions near tES electrodes, and
  2. Functional connectivity within brain networks associated with brain regions near tES electrodes.

In exploratory analyses, we also measure the extent to which the hypothesized changes listed above a related to changes in tinnitus symptoms after tES.


Chronic subjective tinnitus is a common and sometimes disabling condition, with few effective treatments and no cure. Tinnitus is thought to involve dysfunction in central brain networks subsequent to peripheral injury or interference; thus, neurostimulation therapies that directly target central circuits are receiving growing interest. Of these, noninvasive transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) is an attractive option, due to its relative affordability, mobility, and favorable safety profile. A growing number of studies have demonstrated that tES of temporal/auditory cortex is effective at transiently reducing tinnitus symptoms, including tinnitus loudness and tinnitus distress. However, the results of previous clinical trials are variable, and a mechanistic understanding of tES and its therapeutic effects remains elusive. The main goal of this research is to lay the groundwork for improved, patient-centered approaches to noninvasive neurostimulation therapy for chronic tinnitus. To accomplish this long-term goal, this study will determine how the intrinsic activity and connectivity of auditory networks are affected during simultaneous tES-fMRI of auditory cortex, specifically in those patients who experience reduced tinnitus symptoms after 5 consecutive days of tES. Though the primary goal of the proposed research is to optimize tES for the treatment of tinnitus, these studies will also provide a wealth of information regarding tinnitus pathophysiology and the mechanisms of tES more generally, which is being investigated for the treatment of a wide variety of brain disorders and injuries.

Condition Tinnitus, Subjective
Treatment Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (tES)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03544359
SponsorNorthwestern University
Last Modified on8 August 2022

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