07:21am Tuesday 24 October 2017

New link in tinnitus research

The nerve cell types and the chemistry of the neural circuitry in this part of the brain differ subtly from those other parts of the brain previously thought to be involved.  This means the results published in The Journal of Neuroscience could be potentially important for the future development of drug treatments.

Tinnitus is a potentially debilitating disorder of hearing which is characterised by the perception of non-existent sounds, usually roaring, hissing or ringing in the ears.

The changes in the brain that cause tinnitus are poorly understood.  It is clear however that alterations in nerve cell electrical behaviour must underlie the abnormal “phantom” perception of sound that is experienced by tinnitus sufferers.

For many years, the exact site in the brain where this abnormal nerve cell behaviour occurs has been a contentious issue.

The research, performed by student Darryl Vogler, Professor Donald Robertson and Associate Professor Wilhelmina Mulders, has developed a reliable animal model which can induce tinnitus and also measure brain cell activity.

“This is an important step toward further research in this area,” Associate Professor Mulders said.

“If we can establish a direct link between this increased brain cell activity and tinnitus we may be able to move a step closer to finding a way to treat tinnitus.”

The paper titled Hyperactivity in the Ventral Cochlear Nucleus after Cochlear Trauma concludes that hyperactivity in this part of the brainstem therefore needs to be considered in relation to further neural research into tinnitus.

Media references

Associate Professor Helmy Mulders  (+618)  6488 3321
(School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs)  (+61 8)  6488 5563  /  (+61 4) 32 637 716


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