Modulation of perception or emotion? A scoping review of tinnitus neuromodulation using transcranial direct current stimulation

Giriraj Singh Shekhawat, Cathy M. Stinear, Grant D. Searchfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Tinnitus is the phantom perception of sound and can have negative effect on the quality of life. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive neuromodulation technique, which can increase or decrease the cortical excitability in the brain region to which it is applied. tDCS has been used for tinnitus research since 2006. Objective. To investigate whether tDCS affects tinnitus perception, related emotion, or both, and the potential implications for tinnitus management. Methods. A scoping review was undertaken using the methods proposed by Arksey and O'Malley. After initial consideration of title relevance and reading abstracts, 15 studies were included in this review. The data from these studies were charted to investigate the impact of tDCS on tinnitus perception and emotions. Results. tDCS results in transient suppression of tinnitus loudness and annoyance; however, it does not lead to long-term impact on tinnitus related emotion. Local stimulation of different sites of stimulation (left temporoparietal area, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and auditory cortex) might modulate tinnitus perception (loudness) and emotions differently; however, further research is needed to explore this hypothesis. This review has identified aspects of methodologies that require attention in upcoming tinnitus and tDCS trials to offer better insights. Conclusions. tDCS is an effective research tool for transient tinnitus neuromodulation. However, efforts should be invested in designing clinical trials using local and multiple sites of stimulation, optimized parameters, and objective outcome measures before it can be translated in to a clinical tool for tinnitus management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-846
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • brain stimulation
  • neuromodulation
  • tinnitus
  • transcranial direct current stimulation
  • treatment


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