Researchers at the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, IL, have concluded a study on neurofeedback training as a potential treatment for tinnitus or ringing in the ears. The researchers believe the results of the study show that neurofeedback training can help to reduce the severity of tinnitus or possibly even eliminate it all together.
So what exactly is neurofeedback training? To put it simply, it is a therapy that uses biofeedback (from an EEG, or in this case, an fMRI) to teach self-regulation of brain activity and function. This is done by placing sensors on the scalp of the patient. Those sensors can then relay and measure activity to be displayed using sound or video to the patient. When a certain type of brain activity is registered on the sensors, it shows up on a screen indicating it to the patient. This ultimately allows the patient to try and recognize the conditions and feelings that occur during certain types of brain activity.
In this particular study, the researchers wanted to see if they could treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. The results were promising! Using an fMRI for neurofeedback, the test subjects were able to decrease their brain activity in response to white noise. This methodology could be very useful to sufferers of tinnitus as the condition is believed to be caused in some cases by an over-attention to the auditory cortex. Using neurofeedback, a tinnitus sufferer could potentially draw attention away from the auditory cortex and relieve the symptoms or ringing.This therapy not only shows promise for treatment of tinnitus, but also potentially for pain management in general.
At Peachtree Hearing, our first recommendation is a thorough tinnitus evaluation from a qualified audiologist. We recommend trying more traditional approaches to treating tinnitus before looking into neurofeedback training. However, this may show promise for the future for those suffering with tinnitus who are unable to find relief from conventional methods.