Abnormal regional activity and functional connectivity in resting-state brain networks associated with etiology confirmed unilateral pulsatile tinnitus in the early stage of disease

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Abnormal neural activities can be revealed by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) using analyses of the regional activity and functional connectivity (FC) of the networks in the brain. This study was designed to demonstrate the functional network alterations in the patients with pulsatile tinnitus (PT). In this study, we recruited 45 patients with unilateral PT in the early stage of disease (less than 48 months of disease duration) and 45 normal controls. We used regional homogeneity (ReHo) and seed-based FC computational methods to reveal resting-state brain activity features associated with pulsatile tinnitus. Compared with healthy controls, PT patients showed regional abnormalities mainly in the left middle occipital gyrus (MOG), posterior cingulate gyrus (PCC), precuneus and right anterior insula (AI). When these regions were defined as seeds, we demonstrated widespread modification of interaction between the auditory and non-auditory networks. The auditory network was positively connected with the cognitive control network (CCN), which may associate with tinnitus related distress. Both altered regional activity and changed FC were found in the visual network. The modification of interactions of higher order networks were mainly found in the DMN, CCN and limbic networks. Functional connectivity between the left MOG and left parahippocampal gyrus could also be an index to reflect the disease duration. This study helped us gain a better understanding of the characteristics of neural network modifications in patients with pulsatile tinnitus.

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