A new study conducted by Wright State University in Ohio has demonstrated that neurofeedback training may be able to reduce the severity of tinnitus, or even completely eliminate the condition. The researchers looked at a new potential way to treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. Neurofeedback allows individuals to train their brain by showing an external indicator of their brain activity and allowing them to exert control over it.
“The idea is that in people with tinnitus, there is an over-attention drawn to the auditory cortex, making it more active than in a healthy person,” Sherwood told the Radiological Society of North America, quoted in Science Daily. “Our hope is that tinnitus sufferers could use neurofeedback to divert attention away from their tinnitus and possibly make it go away.”
To explore the potential of this approach, the researchers had 18 healthy individuals undergo five neurofeedback training sessions. Study participants were given earplugs through which white noise could be introduced for period of time. At first, researchers mapped the brain activity of the participants during periods with and without sound. This has allowed them to create brain maps that show which areas of brain was most active when hearing sound.
The participants were then shown their brain activity in a form of a bar while listening to the white noise. They were asked to actively attempt to lower the bar by decreasing their auditory cortex activity. The researchers gave the participants techniques to help, such as diverting attention to touch and sight. Research demonstrates that the auditory cortex activity decreased, delivering promising results that can be applied in other areas of medicine, such as pain management.