Tinnitus: mechanisms, measures and sound treatments


  • Pedro Cobo Parra Instituto de Tecnologías Físicas y de la Información (ITEFI, CSIC)




Hearing Loss, tinnitus, sound therapies


Tinnitus is the auditory perception of sounds in the absence of any external source. Tinnitus that occurs every day for more than five minutes is reported by 10–15% of the population, and for 1 to 2% it is a handicap that interferes significantly with their quality of life (severe tinnitus). Despite the intensive research into therapeutic options, including surgery, pharmacotherapy, and electrical and acoustical stimulation, there is no approved treatment for tinnitus at present. Although the exact origin of tinnitus is still unknown, it seems to be the correlate of maladaptive attempts of the brain at reorganization due to distorted sensory input (brain plasticity). This theory is consistent with the fact that most tinnitus is associated with hearing loss. Acoustical therapies try to take advantage of this plasticity, stimulating properly the auditory system to produce tinnitus relief. Several sound therapies are reviewed in this paper, concluding that the so-called Enriched Acoustic Environment (namely a sequence of gammatones, each one with random frequency and amplitude matched to the hearing loss at this frequency) provides the most refined and selective stimulus for the tinnitus patient. Therefore, the hearing loss curve of the patient is needed to design this sound stimulus.


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How to Cite

Cobo Parra, P. (2015). Tinnitus: mechanisms, measures and sound treatments. Loquens, 2(2), e024. https://doi.org/10.3989/loquens.2015.024