Textbook of Tinnitus

pp 161-169

A Global Brain Model of Tinnitus

  • Winfried SchleeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Konstanz Email author 
  • , Isabel Lorenz
  • , Thomas Hartmann
  • , Nadia Müller
  • , Hannah Schulz
  • , Nathan Weisz

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


  1. 1.

    Subjective tinnitus is characterized by the perception of a phantom sound in the absence of any physical source.

  2. 2.

    While transient tinnitus usually lasts only a couple of seconds to a few hours, chronic tinnitus is an ongoing conscious perception of sound for more than 6 months with low incidence of spontaneous remissions.

  3. 3.

    Empirical studies in animals and humans often show enhancement of cortical excitability in the auditory areas associated with the tinnitus.

  4. 4.

    Theoretical and experimental studies suggest an additional involvement of extra-auditory cortical regions, especially the frontal cortex, the parietal cortex, and the cingulum.

  5. 5.

    Using magnetoencephalograpic recordings, we found that these areas are functionally connected with each other and form a global fronto–parietal–cingulate network.

  6. 6.

    The top–down influence of this global network on auditory areas is associated with the distress that is perceived by many individuals with tinnitus.

  7. 7.

    We suggest that both entities – the enhanced excitability of the central auditory system and the integration with a global cortical network – are important to generate and maintain a conscious percept of tinnitus.

  8. 8.

    This chapter will concentrate on how a conscious perception of tinnitus is formed and maintained throughout a lifetime.



Chronic tinnitus Conscious perception Global network Cortical connectivity Top–down Long-range connectivity