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EDITORIAL  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 63  |  Page : 81-82
Noise and health special issue: Advances in the neuroscience of tinnitus

1 Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, P.O. Box 100174, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
2 Center for Hearing and Deafness, 137 Cary Hall, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA
3 Department of Physiology and Biophysics, 123 Sherman Hall, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA
4 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Click here for correspondence address and email
Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2013
 
How to cite this article:
Lobarinas E, Salvi R, Baizer J, Altman C, Allman B. Noise and health special issue: Advances in the neuroscience of tinnitus. Noise Health 2013;15:81-2

How to cite this URL:
Lobarinas E, Salvi R, Baizer J, Altman C, Allman B. Noise and health special issue: Advances in the neuroscience of tinnitus. Noise Health [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Dec 10];15:81-2. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2013/15/63/81/110283

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This special issue of Noise and Health highlights recent advancements in tinnitus diagnosis and management, and also addresses the several challenges that remain in treating patients who suffer from tinnitus.

Tinnitus, or the 'Curse of Titus' in the Babylonian Talmud, has long been recognized as a debilitating disorder. The earliest cases of tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sensation in the ears, were documented over 2000 years ago. Regrettably, to date, there are no widely accepted cures for tinnitus, although progress has been made in ameliorating some of the symptoms. In the United States and Europe approximately 12-15% of the population experiences tinnitus, and approximately 1-2% of the population has severe or disabling tinnitus, for which the patients seek medical or audiological diagnosis and treatment. Although an 'absolute cure' remains largely elusive, there is a much greater understanding of the relationship that exists among tinnitus, hearing loss, and an individual's reaction to the phantom auditory sensation. Approximately, 85% of tinnitus sufferers have some degree of hearing loss and in many cases the pitch of the tinnitus is close to the frequency region of the hearing loss. We also know that presbycusis and noise exposure are leading causes of both hearing loss and tinnitus.

Over the last 20 years, a number of major advances have been made, both in the basic science and in the clinical diagnosis of tinnitus. In the basic sciences, the major innovations have been the development of animal models and the use of several different brain imaging techniques to identify regions of the central nervous system associated with tinnitus. In the clinical arena, new methods have been developed and refined to categorize and quantify the severity and nature of the tinnitus, including its emotional and social impact. Over the past decade, considerable effort has gone into developing new approaches to treat tinnitus, using a combination of sound therapy and counseling or cochlear implants for patients with severe unilateral hearing loss plus unbearable tinnitus. These advances have created an environment for clinicians and scientists to work together, to address the needs of patients with tinnitus, and to better understand the underlying biological factors that lead to debilitating tinnitus.

In 2006, the University at Buffalo's Center for Hearing and Deafness invited leading scientists and clinicians to come together and share their ideas, present their most recent findings, and foster collaborations, to advance research on the basic science and clinical aspects of tinnitus. In a follow-up to this successful endeavor, the University at Buffalo teamed up with the Tinnitus Research Initiative in August of 2011, to organize a second international conference in Grand Island, NY, with the world's leading clinicians and scientists, to focus on the Neuroscience of Tinnitus and the potential clinical treatments. The current Special Issue in Noise and Health includes a selection of nine interesting articles and posters presented at the symposium.

These significant manuscripts cover a broad range of topics including evaluating sound therapies, the comorbidity of tinnitus-related symptoms, drug treatment, and the role of the tinnitus retraining therapy, as an effective directive counseling approach. In this series of articles, the reader will have the opportunity of reviewing recent advancements in sound-based therapies and what these may tell us about the potential physiological mechanisms (Hoare et al.). New sound stimulation in the form of music and fractal tones incorporated into modern hearing aids are discussed as potential therapies for tinnitus (Sweetow et al.). Tinnitus seldom occurs in isolation and often involves multiple factors. Recent findings on the comorbidity of sleep disorders, hyperacusis, and tinnitus are discussed by Fioretti et al. A specific tinnitus subtype that includes the Tonic Tensor Tympani Syndrome in patients with comorbid tinnitus and hyperacusis is presented, demonstrating the emerging trends of improved diagnosis in tinnitus patients (Wescott et al.). Better schemes for categorizing or classifying patients are clearly needed. An article on a spectrum-based analysis of tinnitus highlights new classification schema that may lead to specific therapeutic strategies based on the tinnitus subtype (Heijneman et al.). The absence of 'dead regions' in non-pulsatile tinnitus patients now challenges the notion that cochlear dead regions are involved in tinnitus among normal hearing and hearing-impaired patients (Guilles et al.). Interesting clinical case reports have often led to new insights into understanding how tinnitus is initiated and how it may be treated. Also presented in this special issue are case reports suggesting that otic bone disorders may be involved in tinnitus generation and may be treatable with drug therapy (Brookler). For readers unfamiliar with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, the special issue includes an excellent article that reviews the rationale for this popular approach to tinnitus management (Formby et al.). Finally, a review of intratympanic drug treatment and how this may be used to treat tinnitus is discussed (Meyer).

Collectively these articles provide exciting new findings for the tinnitus expert and for the readership less familiar with the tinnitus literature, and they also highlight the efforts made at finding solutions to this persistent problem.


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We would like to recognize the important administrative, logistical, and financial contributions of our sponsors that made this meeting possible. We are especially grateful to the Office of Naval Research, a major sponsor of the conference. The Tinnitus Research Initiative and their outstanding staff helped to make the meeting a success. The Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences at the University at Buffalo and the University at Buffalo Medical School provided significant financial and administrative support. Finally, we greatly appreciate the generous contributions from MED-EL, General Hearing Instruments, Auris Medical, Widex, the American Tinnitus Association, Sound Pillow, Sound Cure, Merz Pharmaceuticals, and Tucker-Davis Technologies.

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Correspondence Address:
Richard Salvi
Center for Hearing and Deafness, 137 Cary Hall, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.110283

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