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Animal Study Finds Nerve Stimulation May Thwart Tinnitus
US News & World Report ^ | 01-12-11 | Staff

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.

More information

The American Tinnitus Association has more about tinnitus.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ears; health; hearing; tinnitus

1 posted on 01/12/2011 12:21:17 PM PST by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

What I would give to get rid of this ringing....


2 posted on 01/12/2011 12:23:05 PM PST by lakeman (Semper Fi)
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To: Red Badger

Hmmmm, I am trying to imagine rats complaining about ringing in their ears. How can they possibly know rats have tinnitus?


3 posted on 01/12/2011 12:25:04 PM PST by HerrBlucher ("It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." G.K. Chesterton)
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To: lakeman
And to hear and understand grand daughters talking to me in a crowded restaurant with mostly stone walls and a tile floor.
4 posted on 01/12/2011 12:26:45 PM PST by grobdriver (Proud Member, Party Of No! No Socialism - No Fascism - Nobama - No Way!)
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To: HerrBlucher

Maybe the rats were constantly telling the researchers to speak up............


5 posted on 01/12/2011 12:27:35 PM PST by Red Badger (Whenever these vermin call you an 'idiot', you can be sure that you are doing something right.)
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To: Red Badger

I always thought all that ringing was my brain at work!


6 posted on 01/12/2011 12:29:36 PM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: Red Badger
"Will somebody get the P H O N E ! !"
7 posted on 01/12/2011 12:30:50 PM PST by de.rm (Bang, bang, . . bang. Shhh=Bush, the elder, E. Howard Hunt, LBJ, Mrs, Edgar Hoover)
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To: lakeman

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?


8 posted on 01/12/2011 12:31:08 PM PST by Zarro (Hands off Our Junk!)
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To: Red Badger

Yeah, the rat version of huh? What? Pardon me?

I have tinnitus, but only when I think about it, like now....damn this thread!


9 posted on 01/12/2011 12:31:11 PM PST by HerrBlucher ("It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." G.K. Chesterton)
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To: HerrBlucher

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Kyi0WNg40


10 posted on 01/12/2011 12:32:39 PM PST by Red Badger (Whenever these vermin call you an 'idiot', you can be sure that you are doing something right.)
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To: lakeman
What I would give to get rid of this ringing....

there it goes again!

Try answering the phone.

Oh

:)

11 posted on 01/12/2011 12:38:11 PM PST by NonValueAdded (Palin 2012: don't retreat, just restock [chg'd to comply w/ The Civility in Discourse Act of 2011])
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To: lakeman

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.


12 posted on 01/12/2011 12:50:25 PM PST by OldMissileer (Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, PK. Winners of the Cold War)
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To: Red Badger

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..


13 posted on 01/12/2011 12:56:44 PM PST by joe fonebone (The House has oversight of the Judiciary...why are the rogue judges not being impeached?)
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To: OldMissileer

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.


14 posted on 01/12/2011 12:57:05 PM PST by HerrBlucher ("It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." G.K. Chesterton)
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To: Red Badger

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?


15 posted on 01/12/2011 1:02:38 PM PST by Bobalu ( "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." ..Moshe Dayan:)
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To: joe fonebone

I think that is where mine came from too.


16 posted on 01/12/2011 1:37:41 PM PST by dis.kevin (Dry white toast)
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To: Red Badger

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.


17 posted on 01/12/2011 1:48:00 PM PST by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: Conan the Librarian

I have those tones too, occasionally, they fade in and out like a tuning fork passing by my head................


18 posted on 01/12/2011 1:48:56 PM PST by Red Badger (Whenever these vermin call you an 'idiot', you can be sure that you are doing something right.)
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To: Red Badger

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.


19 posted on 01/12/2011 1:59:43 PM PST by adorno
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To: Red Badger
Research in rats suggests that "rebooting" the brain can help stop tinnitus

But will it work for conservatives also? Sure hope so, it's been bothering me for years as well.

20 posted on 01/12/2011 2:30:28 PM PST by Moltke (Always retaliate first.)
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To: Red Badger

The miraculous human body adjusts to this by simply dropping to into the baseline, thereby making it un-noticeable in most situations.


21 posted on 01/12/2011 3:29:57 PM PST by SgtHooper (Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.)
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