New research aims to capture and eventually cure incessant ringing in the ears. Researchers at the Lauer Center are trying to develop a more tangible physical signature of tinnitus. They’re using hearing tests as well as measurements of electrical activity in the brain and pupil movement in the eyes (the pupils change size depending on the amount of effort used to listen), and plugging the results into a computer.
These researchers have been learning about the underlying biology of the problem. They’ve been using lab animals to figure out more about the auditory connections lost to age. They’re also researching how to regenerate and restore hearing signals from the ear to the brain.
Current treatments attempt to make tinnitus less annoying. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis aim to redirect negative thoughts and emotions linked to tinnitus. Sound therapy tries to mask the noise of tinnitus. The masking sound, which comes from wearable or external devices for the ear, is meant to distract overactive brain cells.