Researchers placed recording electrodes in several areas in the brain of a man with tinnitus who was undergoing surgery for epilepsy. The man, who was awake during the procedure, was played a 30 second burst of noise through headphones. The man was asked to rate the loudness of his tinnitus before the experiment started, as well as immediately after the noise finished and 10 seconds later. About half the time, the man’s tinnitus became quiet in the period immediately following the noise.
What was extraordinary about the results was the conclusion that tinnitus affects a larger part of the brain than previously thought - not just the areas related to sound, but also emotions, memory and mood.
Professor Robert Sweetow from the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of California, San Francisco, welcomes the study but urges caution. ”There is a lot of conflicting and overlapping information, similar to what is found in neural imaging studies,” he says. “So at this point, I think these studies represent the beginning of an area worth exploring, but have not yet given us information we can currently use.”
Widex ZEN uses fractal tones to help manage tinnitus and Robert Sweetow says that “one of the reasons they are so effective is because since they are processed in many parts of the brain rather than just in the auditory areas.”
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