Researchers have made a breakthrough that could help reduce the constant sound or humming in the ears of tinnitus sufferers. About 15 percent of people suffer from tinnitus, which is difficult to find out why and harder to treat. Researchers have shown that electroshitting the tongue, combined with a well-designed sound program, can reduce symptoms of the disease during treatment and after a year.
Neurobiologist Christopher Cederroth says this is “very important” work, and the study joins other studies investigating “dual-mode” stimuli, using sound and some mild electric shock to help the brain control neurons with behavioral disorders. The role of the tongue in tinnitus was discovered by chance by a biomedical engineer named Hubert Lin at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
He was experimenting with a technique called deep brain stimulation to restore hearing when he inserted a pencil-sized stick covered with electrodes directly into the brains of five different patients. In this procedure, it is common for electrodes to fall slightly outside the target area. When discharged from a patient with electrodes outside the target area, the patient says their tinnitus disappears.
Additional tests with guinea pigs can show the best parts of the body to stop tinnitus. Eventually, they tested it in humans, where 326 tinnitus patients sat for an hour at a time, with tiny electrodes connected to their tongues to transmit electricity in an effort to stimulate the brain’s excitement.
According to the volunteers, the stimulation felt a bit like popping 嗞嗞 in your mouth. The subjects also wore headphones to provide more targeted therapeutic sounds to the brain’s auditory system. Against the background noise, the participants heard a series of pure sounds of different frequencies that changed rapidly, sounding similar to electronic music. During the 12-week treatment, the tinnitus symptoms of the test group improved dramaticly, and even more strikingly, more than 80 percent felt the improvement.