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Pilot study to attenuate tonal tinnitus using near-threshold individually optimized noise
Around 15 % of the general population is affected by tinnitus, but no real cure exists despite intensive research. Based on our recent causal model for tinnitus development we here test a new treatment aimed to counteract the percept. This therapy is based on the Stochastic Resonance phenomenon at specific auditory system synapses that is induced by externally presented near-threshold noise. This pilot study will investigate if individually spectrally fitted acoustic noise can successfully reduce chronic tonal / narrow band tinnitus during stimulation.
Hearing loss (HL) as well as tinnitus pitch (TP) and loudness (TL) were audiometrically measured in 22 adults (46.6 ( ± 16.3) a; 4 women) with tinnitus. Based on these measurements up to 8 different noise stimuli with five intensities (-20 to +20 dB SL) were generated. They were presented for 40 s each via audiologic headphones in a soundproof chamber. After each presentation the change in TL was rated using a 5 level scale (-2 to +2).
We found patients (n=6) without any improvements of their TL percept as well as those with improvement (n=16), where stimulation around the TP was most effective. The groups differed in the post-hoc analysis of their audiograms: obviously, the effectiveness of our new therapeutic strategy depends on the individual HL, and was most effective in normal hearing tinnitus patients and those with mild HL.
Subjective TL could be reduced in 16 out of 22 patients during stimulation. For a possible success of a future therapy the HL seems to be of relevance.
WSAudiology, Sivantos GmbH
13 May 2021 (online)
Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany