Tinnitus Research Gives Hope for Cure
by Celia Hall Medical Editor
Areas of the brain responsible for tinnitus, which causes constant roaring
and ringing in the ears, have been isolated for the first time by doctors
The discovery could lead to a cure for the condition, which is linked
to deafness. Researchers from the University of New York and the United
States Veterans Affairs Department medical centre in Buffalo realised
that some patients could control the loudness of the noises by clenching
and unclenching their jaws. Using positron emission tomography, or PET
scanning, they were able to trace blood flow in the brains of tinnitus
When they made their tinnintus louder, there was a corresponding increase
in activity in small areas of the temporal lobe, opposite the affected
ear. The results were compared with other tinnitus patients who did not
manipulate the noise and with people who did not suffer from tinnitus.
Dr. Alan Lockwood, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, who
headed the study, said: "By identifying the sites in the brain that
mediate tinnitus, we have taken a critical step down the road toward a
cure for this disabling condition."
Other findings, never before observed, included an abnormal link in tinnitus
patients between the area of the brain responsible for hearing and the
limbic system, the brain wiring responsible for emotions, which may explain
why tinnitus can be so emotionally crippling.
The study was reported in the medical journal Neurology, published yesterday.