Skip to comments.Animal Study Finds Nerve Stimulation May Thwart Tinnitus
Posted on 01/12/2011 12:21:15 PM PST by Red Badger
Treatment in rats stops, rather than masks, the problem, researchers say
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Research in rats suggests that "rebooting" the brain can help stop tinnitus, a condition characterized by persistent ringing or other noises in the ears.
There is no cure for tinnitus, which can occur as a result of hearing loss.
In this study, U.S. researchers stimulated the vagus nerve while simultaneously playing a variety of sound tones over an extended period of time. The goal was to increase the numbers of neurons tuned to frequencies other than the tinnitus frequency.
The vagus nerve is a large nerve that runs from the head and neck to the abdomen. When stimulated, the nerve releases chemicals that help encourage changes in the brain. Vagus nerve stimulation is sometimes used to treat depression and epilepsy.
A control group of rats received vagus nerve stimulation with no tones, no therapy or tones with no vagus nerve stimulation.
Judging from the resulting neuron activity, the rats receiving vagus nerve stimulation while listening to different tones appeared to be cured of tinnitis. Promising research with animals often fails to produce similar results in humans, however.
"Current treatments for tinnitus generally involve masking the sound or learning to ignore it. If we can find a way to turn off the noise, we'll be able to improve life substantially for the nearly 23 million American adults who suffer from this disorder," Dr. James F. Battey, Jr., director of the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, said in a National Institutes of Health news release.
The NIDCD funded a large part of the study, published online Jan 12 in the journal Nature. MicroTransponder Inc., whose scientists worked on the project along with those from the University of Texas at Dallas, also helped sponsor the research.
In people with tinnitus, it's believed that "the part of the brain that processes sounds -- the auditory cortex -- delegates too many neurons to some frequencies, and things begin to go awry. Because there are too many neurons processing the same frequencies, they are firing much stronger than they should be," study co-principal investigator Michael Kilgard, an associate professor of behavior and brain sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, said in the news release.
"The key is that, unlike previous treatments, we're not masking the tinnitus, we're not hiding the tinnitus," he said. "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."
The researchers plan to try the treatment on tinnitus patients in Europe.
The American Tinnitus Association has more about tinnitus.
What I would give to get rid of this ringing....
Hmmmm, I am trying to imagine rats complaining about ringing in their ears. How can they possibly know rats have tinnitus?
Maybe the rats were constantly telling the researchers to speak up............
I always thought all that ringing was my brain at work!
I’m with you! It can be really annoying at times.
Like the other poster, I’m wondering how the rats let them know that it was improved?
Yeah, the rat version of huh? What? Pardon me?
I have tinnitus, but only when I think about it, like now....damn this thread!
there it goes again!
Try answering the phone.
I have it too.
Some say it can be started from exposure to constant noise. That would be from the nearly ten years pulling Alerts in the missile capsules. Quite noisy with the air conditioning systems, motor generator, and other constant whine of equipment.
I worked the flight deck on 2 aircraft carriers...I can still hear the roar of the engines in my ears...plus, I am now legally deaf...if they could shut down the tinnitus, that would be a huge leap..
Mine is only in the left ear. On hearing this a friend of mine asked if I drive with the window down (yes), he called it “truckers ear.” Even when it is very hot or very cold out, I always have the window cracked down just a bit, I just like to have a steady flow of fresh air.
Some people have implanted vagus nerve stimulators.
The stimulators go in the chest cavity and the stimulator wire is wrapped around the vagus nerve several times where it passes through the neck on the left side.
I wonder if the people in this group have had a lessening of any tinnitus?
I think that is where mine came from too.
I’ve dealt with this since I was 4. Fortunately, only occasional bouts.
I had a ear infection that totally destroyed all the little bones in my left ear. Now I have a hunk of plastic in their place.
I don’t have ringing, I here tones, right around 1000 hertz.
It can be quite maddening.
I have those tones too, occasionally, they fade in and out like a tuning fork passing by my head................
My tinnitus started after I had an inguinal hernia operation some 10 years ago, after the effects of the drugs I was given before the operation wore off. The “noise” started some 2 hours after I got home from the hospital and all the effects of the drugs were gone. The noise started suddenly and shortly I sat in front of my computer. I noticed a sound coming from the ceiling and I looked up to try to see where it was coming from. Then I realized there was nothing “up there” to cause the noise and I started to try to explore where it was coming from, and, as I moved from the family room to the kitchen, I noticed that is was still there, from above me, and that’s when I realized that something had “gone wrong” and that the noise was “in my head”, and I’ve been stuck with it since then.
I’m still wondering if the noise was not chemically induced and triggered the tinnitus.
But will it work for conservatives also? Sure hope so, it's been bothering me for years as well.
The miraculous human body adjusts to this by simply dropping to into the baseline, thereby making it un-noticeable in most situations.