Millions of people hear ringing in their ears, which doctors call "tinnitus," but they should soon be cleared of it. An experimental device calms tinnitus by targeting anarchic nerve activity in the brain.
No more permanent buzzing in the ears. A new study funded by the Coulter Foundation looked at tinnitus control. Based on years of scientific research on the root causes of the disease, the new device will use precisely rhythmic sounds based on weak electrical pulses activating the nerves of sensitivity. The work is published in Science Translational Medicine.
Both aim to bring damaged nerve cells back to normal activity. Participants reported that after four weeks of daily use, the volume of ghost sounds decreased and their quality of life, normally impacted by tinnitus, improved.
Target the cochlear nucleus
The brain, and more precisely the dorsal cochlear nucleus, is the root of tinnitus. When the main neurons of this region, called fusiform cells, become hyperactive and synchronize with each other, the ghost signal is transmitted to other nerve centers where perception occurs. The approach involves two senses. The device emits a sound in the ears, punctuated by gentle and precise electrical impulses delivered to the cheek or neck.
"If we can stop these signals, we can stop tinnitus," enthuses the author of the study. This is what our approach is trying to do, and we are encouraged by these initial parallel results in animals and humans. "