Treatments for tinnitus may need to enhance cortical plasticity rather than reverse it…

Some new research that brings in to question how cortical plasticity relates to tinnitus.

Is cortical plasticity a cause of tinnitus or the key to reversing it?


Some interesting developments from the paper, Cortical Tonotopic Map Changes in Humans are Larger in Hearing Loss than in additional Tinnitus:

This observation suggests a connection between tinnitus and an incomplete form of central compensation to hearing loss, rather than excessive adaptation. One implication of this may be that treatments for tinnitus shift their focus towards enhancing the cortical plasticity on track, instead of reversing it.


Tinnitus, a common and potentially devastating condition, is the presence of a ‘phantom’ sound that often accompanies hearing loss. Hearing loss is known to induce plastic changes in cortical and sub-cortical areas. Although plasticity is a valuable trait that allows the human brain to rewire and recover from injury and sensory deprivation, it can lead to tinnitus as an unwanted side effect. In this large fMRI study, we provide evidence that tinnitus is related to a more conservative form of reorganization than in hearing loss without tinnitus. This result contrasts with the previous notion that tinnitus is related to excessive reorganization. As a consequence, treatments for tinnitus may need to enhance the cortical plasticity, rather than reversing it.


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