Research ArticleTINNITUS

Auditory-somatosensory bimodal stimulation desynchronizes brain circuitry to reduce tinnitus in guinea pigs and humans

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Science Translational Medicine  03 Jan 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 422, eaal3175
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aal3175

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The sound of silence

Tinnitus reduces quality of life for millions of tinnitus sufferers worldwide. Using a guinea pig model of tinnitus induced by noise trauma, Marks et al. delivered precisely timed bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation designed to induce long-term depression (LTD) in the cochlear nucleus of these animals. Twenty minutes per day of bimodal stimulation to induce LTD in the cochlear nucleus reduced physiological and behavioral evidence of tinnitus in the animals. The same bimodal protocol reduced tinnitus loudness in human subjects in a double-blinded, sham-controlled, crossover clinical study. Unimodal stimulation did not reduce tinnitus in the animals or the humans. Bimodal auditory-somatosensory stimulation that induces LTD may hold promise for suppressing chronic tinnitus in patients.