Tinnitus discovery may lead to new treatment

NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on the science behind tinnitus and the search for a cure.

Fifty million Americans experience chronic ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus. But new research from the University of Michigan Medical School may soon provide solace to those suffering.

The discovery helps to explain what is going on inside the brains of those with tinnitus and may provide a new approach to treat the nagging noise. The research team already has a patent pending and device in development.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, explain that a process called stimulus-timing dependent multisensory plasticity is altered in animals with tinnitus and the results have revealed the relationship between tinnitus, hearing loss and sensory input.

Dr. Susan Shore, senior author of the paper notes that any treatment likely will have to be customized to each patient and delivered on a regular basis. Some patients may be more likely to benefit than others.