Differential electrophysiological correlates of panic disorder in non-pulsatile tinnitus

T. Pattyn, S. Vanneste, D. De Ridder, V. Van Rompaey, D. J. Veltman, P. Van de Heyning, B. C.G. Sabbe, F. Van Den Eede

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Aims: The prevalence of panic disorder (PD) reportedly is up to fivefold higher in people with tinnitus than it is in the general population. The brain networks in the two conditions overlap but the pathophysiological link remains unclear. In this study the electrophysiological brain activity is investigated in adults with non-pulsatile tinnitus with and without concurrent PD. Methods: Resting-state EEGs of 16 participants with non-pulsatile tinnitus and PD were compared with those of 16 peers with non-pulsatile tinnitus without PD and as many healthy controls. The sLORETA technique was used to identify group-specific electrophysiological frequencies in the brain and to approximate the brain regions where differences occurred. The influence of distress was investigated and functional connectivity charted using the Region-of-Interest (ROI) approach (amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), insula, precuneus). Results: The comorbid group showed significantly diminished theta activity (p < 0.05) in the precuneus (BA7) compared to the tinnitus group without PD as well as in another region of the precuneus (BA31) as compared to the controls. Higher levels of distress influenced results in the tinnitus group without PD, while in those with PD a diminished connectivity was observed between the dorsal ACC and the other three ROIs as contrasted to the controls. Conclusions: Adults with non-pulsatile tinnitus and concurrent PD show differential brain activity patterns to tinnitus only sufferers and healthy controls. Higher levels of distress may modulate brain activity in the absence of PD. Screening for distress is recommended in both clinical and research settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-62
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of psychosomatic research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Connectivity
  • Distress
  • Eeg
  • Loreta

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