Skip to comments.'Rebooting' brain could ease ringing in ears
Posted on 01/12/2011 12:18:22 PM PST by Red Badger
Scientists have found a way to ease chronic ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, by stimulating a neck nerve and playing sounds to reboot the brain, according to research published Wednesday.
There is currently no cure for tinnitus, which can range from annoying to debilitating and affects as many as 23 million adults in the United States, including one in 10 seniors and 40 percent of military veterans.
For Gloria Chepko, 66, who has suffered from tinnitus since she was four years old, the sound she describes as "like crickets... but also bell-like," gets worse when she is tired.
"It's awful," she said. "Sometimes it is very loud, and it will get loud if I am under stress or if I have been going for a very long time and I am fatigued," she said.
"If my mind is tired and I sit down I will only hear this sound."
For some people, such as military veterans who are left with hearing damage after exposure to loud blasts and gunfire, the noise -- which could also sound like roaring, whooshing or clicking -- interferes with their ability to lead a normal life.
The US Veterans Administration spends one billion dollars per year on disability payments related to tinnitus, the most common service-related ailment in soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, industry experts say.
Scientists believe the disorder is caused by hearing loss or nerve damage, to which the brain tries but fails to adjust.
"Brain changes in response to nerve damage or cochlear trauma cause irregular neural activity believed to be responsible for many types of chronic pain and tinnitus," said Michael Kilgard of the University of Texas, co-author of the study in the journal Nature.
"We believe the part of the brain that processes sounds -- the auditory cortex -- delegates too many neurons to some frequencies, and things begin to go awry," he said.
To fix that, researchers used rats to test a theory that they could reset the brain by retraining it so that errant neurons return to their normal state.
In rats with tinnitus, they electrically stimulated the vagus nerve, which runs from the head through the neck to the abdomen, in combination with playing a certain high-pitched tone.
When stimulated, the nerve can encourage changes in the brain by releasing chemicals such as acetylcholine and norepinephrine that act as neurotransmitters.
Rats that underwent the pairing of noise and stimulation experienced a halt to the ringing sounds for up to three and a half months, while control rats that received just noise or just stimulation did not.
An examination of neural responses in the auditory cortexes showed normal levels in the rats who were treated with the combination of stimulation and sound, indicating the tinnitus had disappeared.
The treatment "not only reorganized the neurons to respond to their original frequencies, but it also made the brain responses sharper," the study said.
"The key is that, unlike previous treatments, we're not masking the tinnitus, we're not hiding the tinnitus," said Kilgard.
"We are returning the brain from a state where it generates tinnitus to a state that does not generate tinnitus. We are eliminating the source of the tinnitus." Clinical trials are expected to begin on humans in the coming months, with the first trials starting in Europe, according to lead study author Navzer Engineer. The process of vagus nerve stimulation, known as VNS, is already being used in the treatment of around 50,000 people with epilepsy or depression, the study said. "This minimally invasive method of generating neural plasticity allows us to precisely manipulate brain circuits, which cannot be achieved with drugs," said Engineer. "Pairing sounds with VNS provides that precision by rewiring damaged circuits and reversing the abnormal activity that generates the phantom sound." Like many sufferers, Chepko has learned to cope with the noise. "I have to find some other way to relax to just endure it, take a bath or do stretches or just lie down and stare or read a book, depending on how bad it is," she said. "I have kind of lived around it, or over it."
My wife will be interested in this.
Having dealt with serious computer crashes lately I think I’ll pass.
“I have severe tinnitus, and am partially deaf. I hope this turns out...................”
I got mine from a bad reaction to some perscription meds in 2000. It’s bad and I would love to get rid of it. At first I thought I was going to go crazy but I hung in there.
if you get the MSG out of your diet it will stop
Well, the BSOD is not a option in this case..............
Ain’t got no MSG..............
I got mine from Ozzy Osbourne.................
lol, it’s in everything you eat if you are eating canned or packaged food. I’ve been free of it for 2 years now, all the ringing, dizziness has gone away
Mine is from an Atlantic City Motorhead show in Sept of ‘09. I have no regrets.
“if you get the MSG out of your diet it will stop”
Just an urban tale, but not factual. Tinnitus is caused by damage, not MSG, gluten, Saccharin, or whatever else is the urban talk of the day.
Me too, I hate this crap.
Not without downloading the operating system to an external hard drive first.
sure, that’s why I dont have it anymore
I look at the ingredients labels on just about everything.
If it’s listed, and it has to be, I don’t buy it...............
Allison T-56 turbine engines and electrical generators for me.
Ozzy was still with Black Sabbath when mine started...........yeah, I’m old...........
So, ya gotta bop the CPU to get the speakers to quit humming? Not sure I like that idea.
Well, George, we got rid of the ringing in the ears, but you're gonna be wetting your drawers for the rest of your natural born life.
My husband was very allergic to MSG, I had to read the labels on everything.
Man, that must have been some show.
Re-booting the brain could lead to lots of good things. I hope this works.
Didn’t work for me. I have tried everything. Herbal remedies, masking, nothing works. How long do these trials usually take? I’ll volunteer tonight.
Black Sabbath was good, back in the day.
Ozzy was skinny...............
What they are doing doesn’t seem to be risky at all. Hopefully this can be made available quickly if the trials are successful.
Fireworks, Ruger Blackhawk, and 4 years on the Lexington for me.
I hope it works as well for those suffering from tinnitus.
Threshold shift, getting the input down by 33 db for a third of the day resets the auditory program & gives your little clangers a good rest.
I also spend a good part of most days with the best Sony noise canceling earbuds.
If nothing else, it's very peaceful.
LOL... made me think of that idiot, Quaid in ‘Christmas Vacation.’ ;0)
LOL... made me think of that idiot, Quaid in ‘Christmas Vacation.’ ;0)
There are all kinds of reasons for tinnitus, and that is why so many people have a pet “cure”.
I had mind for a while when I was in my teens, along with vertigo. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s, and soon found that by taking chromium it disappeared. It recurred recently when I had a low RBC count. Once I got a transfusion it disappeared again.
Some people swear by MSG, by salt, etc. I know someone who was in tank warfare and got a good case he never was able to get rid of.
With my brain I'd probably get by with an old floppy disk /grin
Sorry for double post. Don’t know why it posted twice.
they get around it-— for instance they disguise msg with other names, and when it says “no msg added” that means it’s chock full already. organic turkey bacon will say that, but it’s loaded. restaurants and fast food places heap it on, it makes old rotten tasteless food taste good
How do they know whether or not the rat is experiencing ringing in its ear?
it also makes you fat and I would venture to say it is one cause for obesity since it’s in everything. Also China is supplying it to us by the tons, so just imagine what’s in it
By that same quality of scientific measure, Muslim Presidents, cold winters or severe recessions also cure tinnitus.
so do some research, neurotoxins for instance, by the way, China only wants what’s good for you
That was a real scientific process you followed there to make reach such a specific conclusion.
Like you I have had it for years, every once in a while I get a suprise and it goes away for short periods of time and silence is golden...but I want to know how they know these animals have tinnitis? I don’t think animals talk...just wondering..:O)
BS. I quit MSG long ago before I even got this problem and I got this problem.
I don’t think I should be rebooted. For one thing, I don’t know where my brain’s recovery disks are. I don’t think they were included when I was shipped from the factory. In fact, I arrived without even so much as a user manual.
Yeah, factory installs never come with all the stuff you need.
You know my tinnitus is caused by MSG even though my doctor attributes it to the incessant noise and vibration of farm equipment. Your prognosis isn't supported by serious science, but it doesn't have to be because China is a bad place.
Titan II complexes and Minuteman III Launch Control Centers and Launch Facilities for mine.
I have it every now and then but do have severe hearing loss from a very bad case of vertigo in my 20s. Also had BPPV which was cleared up with Eppley.
Just wish I could hear again... can’t even use a phone on that side... everyone sounds like they’re on helium.
I experience at least one of those every day! I was thinking it is about time to wipe my brain and reinstall, but if a reboot will fix it, I'm in!
How many times can a brain be rebooted before it crashes???