Changes in the regional shape and volume of subcortical nuclei in patients with tinnitus comorbid with mild hearing loss

Woo Suk Tae, Natalia Yakunina, Woo Hyun Lee, Yoon Jong Ryu, Hyung kyu Ham, Sung Bom Pyun, Eui Cheol Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Tinnitus, the perception of sound without an external source, is a prevalent disease, but its underlying mechanism has not been fully elucidated. Recent studies have suggested the involvement of subcortical nuclei in tinnitus generation. We investigated changes in the local shape and volume of subcortical nuclei in relation to tinnitus. Methods: The participants included 53 patients with tinnitus and 52 age- and gender-matched normal controls. Individual 3D T1-weighted structural images were obtained using 3-T magnetic resonance imaging. Surface-based vertex analysis (SVA) was performed with automated segmentation of the bilateral caudate nuclei, putamina, nucleus accumbens, thalami, pallidum, hippocampi, amygdalae, and brainstem. The scalar distances from the mean surface and volumes of 15 nuclei were compared between the tinnitus and control groups and correlated with tinnitus handicap score (THI) and tinnitus duration. Results: SVA revealed regional contractions in the accessory basal and lateral nuclei of the right amygdala and expansions in the left medial and right ventral posterior nuclei and lateral dorsal nucleus of both thalami. The surface distances of the right nucleus accumbens were positively correlated with tinnitus duration, while those of the left nucleus accumbens and left hippocampus were negatively correlated with THI. Conclusion: Regional atrophy of the amygdala may indicate self-modulation of emotional response regulation to diminish tinnitus-related emotional distress. Thalamic regional expansion may signify dysfunctional auditory gating in the thalamus, where inhibition of the tinnitus signal at the thalamus level is disrupted due to abnormal changes in the limbic system, ultimately leading to the tinnitus percept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1211
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was funded by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation funded by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (No. 2016M3A9F1941022).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Amygdala
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Surface-based vertex analysis
  • Thalamus
  • Tinnitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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