Recent quotes:

Technology lets clinicians objectively detect tinnitus for first time -- ScienceDaily

The authors add: "Much like the sensation itself, how severe an individual's tinnitus is has previously only been known to the person experiencing the condition. We have combined machine learning and non-invasive brain imaging to quantify the severity of tinnitus. Our ability to track the complex changes that tinnitus triggers in a sufferer's brain is critical for the development of new treatments."

Re-mapping taste in the brain: New study reveals that the cortex -- ScienceDaily

An analysis of the distribution of responses over multiple spatial scales demonstrated that taste representations are distributed across the cortex, with no sign of spatial clustering or topography as would be expected with a map of the gustatory cortex corresponding specific taste sensations. "Our findings are important because they address one of the basic organizing principles of brain function," explains Dr. Fontanini. "Topographical maps are a pervasive feature of brain organization. Demonstrating that the spatial organization of taste responses is not as simple as previously believed makes us re-evaluate the neurobiological processes underlying taste perception and taste-related brain functions."

Electric shocks to the tongue can quiet chronic ringing ears | Science | AAAS

In the team’s experiment, 326 people with tinnitus sat for up to 1 hour at a time with a small plastic paddle on their tongue. Tiny electrodes in the paddle delivered an electrical current designed to broadly excite the brain, getting activity going through a number of interconnected regions. The electrical stimulation feels a little like pop rocks candy fizzing in your mouth, Lim says. Subjects also wore headphones that delivered a more targeted hit to the brain’s auditory system. Each person heard a rapidly changing series of pure tones at different frequencies, against a background noise that sounds “kind of like electronic music,” Lim says. The goal of the two together was to distract the brain by heightening its sensitivity, forcing it to suppress the activity that causes tinnitus. “The brain can only pay attention to so many things,” Lim says. Over the 12 weeks of treatment, the patients’ tinnitus symptoms improved dramatically. More than 80% of those who complied with the prescribed regimen saw an improvement. And they saw an average drop of about 14 points on a tinnitus severity score of one to 100, the researchers report today in Science Translational Medicine. When the team followed up after 12 months, 80% of the participants still had lower tinnitus scores, with average drops of 12.7 and 14.5 points.

Mindfulness is Key to Tinnitus Relief - Neuroscience News

Relaxation therapy provides patients with specific skills to reduce stress arousal levels. In contrast, MBCT, taught by highly-trained clinical psychologists, teaches patients to pay purposeful, present-moment attention to experiences, rather than trying to supress those experiences. Practicing mindfulness meditation in this way can cultivate a more helpful way of responding to tinnitus. People learn how to ‘allow’ and ‘accept’ tinnitus, rather than having to ‘fight it’ or ‘push it away’. Mindfulness does not aim to change the nature or sound of the tinnitus, but the therapy can lead to tinnitus becoming less intrusive, to a point where it is no longer a problem for people.

Brain is strobing, not constant, neuroscience research shows: First sight, now sound: New discoveries show perception is cyclical -- ScienceDaily

The key findings are: 1. auditory perception oscillates over time and peak perception alternates between the ears -- which is important for locating events in the environment; 2. auditory decision-making also oscillates; and 3. oscillations are a general feature of perception, not specific to vision. The work is the result of an Italian-Australian collaboration, involving Professor David Alais, Johahn Leung and Tam Ho of the schools of Psychology and Medical Science, University of Sydney; Professor David Burr from the Department of Neuroscience, University of Florence; and Professor Maria Concetta Morrone of the Department of Translational Medicine, University of Pisa. With a simple experiment, they showed that sensitivity for detecting weak sounds is not constant, but fluctuates rhythmically over time. It has been known for some years that our sight perception is cyclical but this is the first time it has been demonstrated that hearing is as well. "These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles," said Professor Alais from the University of Sydney. "We have suspected for some time that the senses are not constant but are processed via cyclical, or rhythmic functions; these findings lend new weight to that theory." These auditory cycles happen at the rate of about six per second. This may seem fast, but not in neuroscience, given that brain oscillations can occur at up to 100 times per second.

Neurofeedback shows promise in treating tinnitus -- ScienceDaily

The participants then participated in the fMRI-neurofeedback training phase while inside the MRI scanner. They received white noise through their earplugs and were able to view the activity in their primary auditory cortex as a bar on a screen. Each fMRI-neurofeedback training run contained eight blocks separated into a 30-second "relax" period followed by a 30-second "lower" period. Participants were instructed to watch the bar during the relax period and actively attempt to lower it by decreasing primary auditory cortex activity during the lower phase. The researchers gave the participants techniques to help them do this, such as trying to divert attention from sound to other sensations like touch and sight. "Many focused on breathing because it gave them a feeling of control," Dr. Sherwood said. "By diverting their attention away from sound, the participants' auditory cortex activity went down, and the signal we were measuring also went down." A control group of nine individuals were provided sham neurofeedback -- they performed the same tasks as the other group, but the feedback came not from them but from a random participant. By performing the exact same procedures with both groups using either real or sham neurofeedback, the researchers were able to distinguish the effect of real neurofeedback on control of the primary auditory cortex. The study represents the first time fMRI-neurofeedback training has been applied to demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between control of the primary auditory cortex and attentional processes. This is important to therapeutic development, Sherwood said, as the neural mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but likely related to attention.