Is Neurofeedback Therapy a clinically proven treatment for tinnitus?
Investigating the Efficacy of an Individualized Alpha/Delta Neurofeedback Protocol in the Treatment of Chronic Tinnitus
Neural Plasticity; Volume 2019. doi: 10.1155/2019/3540898
Dominik Güntensperger, Christian Thüring, Tobias Kleinjung, Patrick Neff, Martin Meyer
First attempts have demonstrated that the application of alpha/delta neurofeedback in the treatment of chronic tinnitus leads to a reduction of symptoms at the group level. However, recent research also suggests that chronic tinnitus is a decidedly heterogeneous phenomenon, one that requires treatment of distinct subgroups or even on an individual level. Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate an individually adjusted alpha/delta neurofeedback protocol.
Following previous studies, the delta band fixed between 3 and 4 Hz was chosen as the frequency for inhibition. However, unlike the previous studies, the frequency range for the rewarded alpha band was not fixed between 8 and 12 Hz but rather individually determined according to each patient’s specific alpha peak frequency (IAF). Twenty-six chronic tinnitus patients participated in 15 weekly neurofeedback training sessions and extensive pre-and post-tests, as well as follow-up testing 3 and 6 months after training. The main outcome measures were tinnitus-related distress measured with the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ), tinnitus loudness, and pre-and post-training resting-state EEG activity in trained frequency bands. In results, the neurofeedback protocol led to a significant reduction of tinnitus-related distress and tinnitus loudness. While distress remained at a low level even 6 months after the completion of training, loudness returned to baseline levels in the follow-up period. In addition, resting-state EEG activity showed an increase in the trained alpha/delta ratio over the course of the training. This ratio increase was related to training-induced changes of tinnitus-related distress as measured with TQ, mainly due to increases in the alpha frequency range. In sum, this study confirms the alpha/delta neurofeedback as a suitable option for the treatment of chronic tinnitus and represents a first step towards the development of individual neurofeedback protocols.
Neurofeedback for Tinnitus Treatment
Review and Current Concepts
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2017 Dec; doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00386
Dominik Güntensperger, Christian Thüring, Martin Meyer, Patrick Neff, Tobias Kleinjung
An effective treatment to completely alleviate chronic tinnitus symptoms has not yet been discovered. However, recent developments suggest that neurofeedback (NFB), a method already popular in the treatment of other psychological and neurological disorders, may provide a suitable alternative.
NFB is a non-invasive method generally based on electrophysiological recordings and visualizing of certain aspects of brain activity as a positive or negative feedback that enables patients to voluntarily control their brain activity and thus triggers them to unlearn typical neural activity patterns related to tinnitus.
The purpose of this review is to summarize and discuss previous findings of neurofeedback treatment studies in the field of chronic tinnitus. In doing so, also an overview about the underlying theories of tinnitus emergence is presented, and the results of resting-state EEG and MEG studies are summarized and critically discussed. To date, neurofeedback, as well as electrophysiological tinnitus studies, lack general guidelines that are crucial to produce more comparable and consistent results. Even though neurofeedback has already shown promising results for chronic tinnitus treatment, further research is needed in order to develop more sophisticated protocols that are able to tackle the individual needs of tinnitus patients more specifically.