Maladaptive Alterations of Resting State Cortical Network in Tinnitus: A Directed Functional Connectivity Analysis of a Larger MEG Data Set
The present study used resting state MEG whole-head recordings to identify how chronic tonal tinnitus relates to altered functional connectivity of brain’s intrinsic cortical networks. Resting state MEG activity of 40 chronic tinnitus patients and 40 matched human controls was compared identifying significant alterations in intrinsic networks of the tinnitus population. Directed functional connectivity of the resting brain, at a whole cortex level, was estimated by means of a statistical comparison of the estimated phase Transfer Entropy (pTE) between the time-series of cortical activations, as reconstructed by LORETA. As pTE identifies the direction of the information flow, a detailed analysis of the connectivity differences between tinnitus patients and controls was possible. Results indicate that the group of tinnitus patients show increased connectivity from right dorsal prefrontal to right medial temporal areas. Our results go beyond previous findings by indicating that the role of the left para-hippocampal area is dictated by a modulation from dmPFC; a region that is part of the dorsal attention network (DAN), as well as implicated in the regulation of emotional processing. Additionally, this whole cortex analysis showed a crucial role of the left inferior parietal cortex, which modulated the activity of the right superior temporal gyrus, providing new hypotheses for the role of this area within the context of current tinnitus models. Overall, these maladaptive alterations of the structure of intrinsic cortical networks show a decrease in efficiency and small worldness of the resting state network of tinnitus patients, which is correlated to tinnitus distress.