Nearly 45 million Americans experience tinnitus, with 20 million constantly suffering from it.
Tinnitus is very difficult to treat, because the perception which doctors had about the source was wrong so they couldn’t find a treatment which can reduce ringing of ears.
But the new study has shed some light on the source of the sound.
The researchers are from the University of Iowa and Newcastle University.
Researchers have come across a very case where the person is suffering from epilepsy and tinnitus, and the person was going through surgery for epilepsy, so the researchers took advantage of it to observe the persons brain.
They found that tinnitus affects areas of brain beyond the primary auditory cortex; the brain was also active in the areas involved with broader perception of noises, including those that control attention, emotion, memory.
Will Sedley, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle said, “It’s like when you’re walking home on a dark night and you can hear every little flicker of sound that would normally go unnoticed, maybe in people with tinnitus, the ‘high alert’ activity somehow kicks in, gains access to wider perception networks in the brain, and is difficult to dislodge.”
They discovered that tinnitus may occur when the brain amplifies the sounds that normally wouldn’t enter our consciousness.
The researchers to discover the source of the sound have used conducting invasive electrode monitoring in the person who underwent the surgery for epilepsy.
Sedley said, “We now know that tinnitus is represented very differently in the brain to normal sounds, even ones that sound the same.”
Acoustic neutral simulation is currently the most effective treatment for tinnitus, in which the device alters the brain waves and eases the constant sound.
Counseling and sound generators don’t treat the problem but teach the person to cope with the ringing.
The study has shed light on how tinnitus works and this may help in developing an effective treatment.