Modelling homeostatic plasticity in the auditory cortex results in neural signatures of tinnitus

H. Schultheiss, Isma Zulfiqar, Claudio Verardo, Renaud Jolivet, Michelle Moerel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Tinnitus is a clinical condition where a sound is perceived without an external sound source. Homeostatic plasticity (HSP), serving to increase neural activity as compensation for the reduced input to the auditory pathway after hearing loss, has been proposed as a mechanism underlying tinnitus. In support, animal models of tinnitus show evidence of increased neural activity after hearing loss, including increased spontaneous and sound-driven firing rate, as well as increased neural noise throughout the auditory processing pathway. Bridging these findings to human tinnitus, however, has proven to be challenging. Here we implement hearing loss-induced HSP in a Wilson-Cowan Cortical Model of the auditory cortex to predict how homeostatic principles operating at the microscale translate to the meso- to macroscale accessible through human neuroimaging. We observed HSP-induced response changes in the model that were previously proposed as neural signatures of tinnitus, but that have also been reported as correlates of hearing loss and hyperacusis. As expected, HSP increased spontaneous and sound-driven responsiveness in hearing-loss affected frequency channels of the model. We furthermore observed evidence of increased neural noise and the appearance of spatiotemporal modulations in neural activity, which we discuss in light of recent human neuroimaging findings. Our computational model makes quantitative predictions that require experimental validation, and may thereby serve as the basis of future human studies of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119987
Pages (from-to)119987
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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