The International Tinnitus Journal

The International Tinnitus Journal

Official Journal of the Neurootological and Equilibriometric Society
Official Journal of the Brazil Federal District Otorhinolaryngologist Society

ISSN: 0946-5448

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Arousal and Attention Deficits in Patients with Tinnitus

Author(s): John Dornhoffer, Christopher Danner, Mark Mennemeier, Donna Blake, and Edgar Garcia-Rill

We investigated the effects of tinnitus on measures of arousal and attention at various levels of the neuraxis to derive a profile of the pathophysiology of tinnitus. Individuals with tinnitus of at least 6 months’ duration (14 male, 15 female) and healthy controls (14 male, 21 female) were tested for arousal and habituation to repetitive stimulation at the brainstemthalamus level by measuring the P50 potential, a scalp-recorded, auditory-evoked response, using pairs of click stimuli. We used the psychomotor vigilance task, a reaction-time test, to assess attentional processes mediated by thalamocortical functions. We then correlated deficits in arousal and attention, as measured by these tests, with perceived tinnitus severity. Results showed no difference between tinnitus patients and controls in level of arousal or habituation to repetitive sensory stimulation, as measured by the amplitude of the P50 potential and the ability to suppress a second, closely paired stimulus, respectively. However, reaction-time assessments showed that patients with tinnitus have attentional deficits relative to controls ( p=  .02). We found no significant correlation between sleep disturbance or tinnitus severity and reaction-time testing.