Researchers from the University of Michigan reported on January 2018 that experimental device can deliver precisely timed signals to target neural activity, which could help ease the symptoms of tinnitus.
Study included findings from clinical trial of 20 patients suffering from tinnitus. Based on results of the study, bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation approach delivers precisely timed sound to the ears alternating it with weak electrical pulses delivered to the cheek or neck. The aim of the system is to re-set the activity of fusiform cells, which are involved in the brain’s processing of sounds and sensations.
Tests were carried out on guinea pigs with noise-induced tinnitus. It showed that specific timing between the delivery of the sound and electrical pulses was required to suppress the overactive fusiform cells. According to the Science Translational Medicine, after the device had been calibrated to patients’ individual tinnitus symptoms, participants applied it for 30 minutes each day over a four-week period.
Half the group received the bimodal sound-and-electricity treatment, while the other half received sound-only treatment. After a four-week break, the treatment was swapped between the groups and the study carried out over a further four weeks. The patients completed weekly surveys on effect of the treatment on lives and underwent tests to gauge how loud their tinnitus sounds were. Two patients reported the tinnitus disappearing completely. “When fusiform cells become hyperactive and synchronize with one another, phantom signals are transmitted to brain regions involved in perception and that stopping these signals can stop tinnitus,” said Susan Shore, Lead author of the study.
According to Audiology Devices Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, audiology devices help enhance hearing ability of patients. They are focused on diagnostic purposes as well as for the treatment of impairments associated with hearing. Results of the study conclude that the loudness of phantom sounds decreased after receiving the bimodal treatment and symptoms of tinnitus were less.