Introduction Since we recently showed in behavioural tasks that the top-down cognitive control was specifically altered in tinnitus sufferers, here we wanted to establish the link between this impaired executive function and brain alterations in the frontal cortex in tinnitus patients. Method Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we monitored the brain activity changes in sixteen tinnitus patients (TP) and their control subjects (CS) while they were performing a spatial Stroop task, both in audition and vision. Results We observed that TP differed from CS in their functional recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC, BA46), the cingulate gyrus and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC, BA10). This recruitment was higher during interference conditions in tinnitus participants than in controls, whatever the sensory modality. Furthermore, the brain activity level in the right dlPFC and vmPFC correlated with the performance in the Stroop task in TP. Conclusion Due to the direct link between poor executive functions and prefrontal cortex alterations in TP, we postulate that a lack of inhibitory modulation following an impaired top-down cognitive control may maintain tinnitus by hampering habituation mechanisms. This deficit in executive functions caused by prefrontal cortex alterations would be a key-factor in the generation and persistence of tinnitus.
- Prefrontal cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology
- Cognitive Neuroscience