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

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ISSN: 0946-5448

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Electrical stimulation and tinnitus: neuroplasticity, neuromodulation, neuroprotection

Author(s): Shulman Abraham, Goldstein Barbara and Strashun Arnold

Neuroplasticity (NPL), neuromodulation (NM), and neuroprotection (NPT) are ongoing biophysiological processes that are linked together in sensory systems, the goal being the maintenance of a homeostasis of normal sensory function in the central nervous system. It is hypothesized that when the balance between excitatory - inhibitory action is broken in sensory systems, predominantly due to neuromodulatory activity with reduced induced inhibition and excitation predominates, sensory circuits become plastic with adaptation at synaptic levels to environmental inputs1. Tinnitus an aberrant auditory sensation, for all clinical types, is clinically considered to reflect a failure of NPL, NM, and NPT to maintain normal auditory function at synaptic levels in sensory cortex and projected to downstream levels in the central auditory system in brain and sensorineural elements in ear. Clinically, the tinnitus sensation becomes behaviorally manifest with varying degrees of annoyance, reflecting a principle of sensory physiology that each sensation has components, i.e. sensory, affect/behavior, psychomotor and memory. Modalities of tinnitus therapies, eg instrumentation, pharmacology, surgery, target a particular component of tinnitus, with resultant activation of neuromodulators at multiple neuromodulatory centers in brain and ear. Effective neuromodulation at sensory neuronal synaptic levels results in NPL in sensory cortex, NPT and tinnitus relief. Functional brain imaging, metabolic (PET brain) and electrophysiology quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) data in a cochlear implant soft failure patient demonstrates what is clinically considered to reflect NPL, NM, NPT. The reader is provided with a rationale for tinnitus diagnosis and treatment, with a focus on ES, reflecting the biology underlying NPL, NM, NPT.