Research Reports

You have come to the right place to learn more about the research that ATA funds. Every research project must have a specific placement on ATA's Roadmap to a Cure.

The Roadmap is a sequence of steps along four paths – A, B, C and D that begins with finding out what is responsible for producing tinnitus and ends with a successful tinnitus treatment. 

  • Path A leads us to identify where the problem is in the brain.
     
  • Path B will determine the underlying mechanism (action) that causes tinnitus. Like doing an auto diagnostic, we identify the broken part and then what caused it to break.
     
  • Path C will lead us to develop a general therapy for tinnitus.
     
  • Path D leads us to customizing the therapy or therapies for individual tinnitus patients.
     

ATA RESEARCH REPORTS: ROADMAP PATH A 

PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus Associated Changes in Excitatory Synaptic Strength and Intrinsic Properties in the Rat DCN
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Richard Altschuler, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $99,917, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Test whether the presence of persistent tinnitus changes the inherent properties of the ion channels that regulate nerve activity."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: A Method for Measuring Tinnitus and Tinnitus Intensity Objectively: an fMRI-EEG Study
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dirk De Ridder, M.D., Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $96,668, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Develop objective diagnostic tests for tinnitus that are affordable, simple and quick. Using an electroencephalogram (EEG), look for gamma band measurements that objectively illustrate tinnitus presence and loudness. A second part of the study will look at brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, and try to correlate fMRI images to tinnitus presence and intensity.If able to objectively measure tinnitus, then use these same principles and technology to investigate tinnitus distress."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Navigated Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) in Chronic Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: A and C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Christian Gerloff, M.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Tuebingen, Germany
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $47,420, 1 year
PURPOSE: "rTMS is currently under investigation worldwide as a potential treatment for various disorders, systematically exploring its potential for the treatment of tinnitus. In order to identify the areas of the human brain that are linked with tinnitus perception in individual patients, using positron emission tomography (PET), a quiet imaging technique that is sensitive to local changes in cerebral blood flow."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Active Suppression of Pulsatile Tinnitus: Step 1: Ear Canal Measurement
ROADMAP PATH: A and C 
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Robert A. Levine, M.D.
INSTITUTION: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $75,000, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Pulsatile tinnitus is very distinct; patients hear it with every heartbeat. One cause of pulsatile tinnitus is abnormal blood flow in arteries or veins so close to the inner ear that the patient hears it. We concluded that we can simultaneously record EKG and an ear canal recording microphone system. The technique of using an EKG to extract ear sounds related to pulsatile tinnitus from the other sounds in the ear still requires further refinement and remains under development. Once we can confidently isolate the tinnitus sound, we intend to use noise-cancellation technology to silence it."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Brain Imaging of Salicylate and Noise-Induced Tinnitus in Rats
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Edward Lobarinas, Ph.D., CCC-A
INSTITUTION: University at Buffalo, State University of New York at Buffalo
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $168,579, 2 years
PURPOSE: "Identify the neural mechanisms associated with tinnitus using brain imaging and animal behavioral models. Look at areas of the brain that change when tinnitus is present and to evaluate potential treatments. Evidence from limited human studies demonstrates that the brains of people with chronic tinnitus may have more hyperactivity in quiet environments and in response to sound than those without tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Neurophysiology of Hyperacusis
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jennifer Melcher, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $50,000, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Many people with tinnitus find certain sounds unbearably loud, even though the same sounds may not be bothersome at all to other people. This condition is called hyperacusis. Using a type of brain imaging called functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), we showed that hearing centers in the brain are more active than normal in people with hyperacusis. Each hearing center contains many different types of brain cells. In our current research, we will test for over-activity by a particular subset of cells using techniques (EEG and MEG) that are sensitive to various aspects of brain activity. If the culprit cells can be identified, it may be possible to design ways to restore normal function, for instance, using drugs or electrical stimulation."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Ensemble Spontaneous Activity in Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Daniel Stolzberg
INSTITUTION: State University of New York, Buffalo, New York
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $10,000, 1 year
PURPOSE: "This project will investigate the changes in communication between both individual neurons and groups of neurons, and to determine why these communication changes generate tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Response of the Central Auditory System in Tinnitus and Hearing Loss, an fMRI Study
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Pim Van Dijk, Ph.D., University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
$ AMOUNT FUNDED:$99,100, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Every sound we hear, including tinnitus, is related to some pattern of brain activity. Abnormal neural brain activity is the likely cause of tinnitus. This project will investigate brain patterns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). An fMRI takes pictures of a brain’s activity, much as a video camera takes pictures of a body’s activity. We will compare hearing impaired patients with and without tinnitus to determine why some hearing impaired patients have tinnitus while others do not. We expect this to help clarify which brain activity patterns are specific to tinnitus."
Click here to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus – Physiological Changes in Awake Behavioral Model
ROADMAP PATH: A and B
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Richard Salvi, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: State University of New York at Buffalo
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $166,977, 2 years
PURPOSE: "Our objective with this research is to measure the abnormal neural activity in the auditory cortex — activity that we think is responsible for tinnitus — and see if it is closely correlated with the perception of
tinnitus. To accomplish this objective, we need to be able to record the neural activity from the auditory cortex of awake, behaving animals that can report to us when they are experiencing tinnitus or if the tinnitus is absent. Previous studies of tinnitus have generally been done on anesthetized animals. Since anesthetics depress neural activity and can abolish the perception of tinnitus, previous research results were confounded by the unwanted effects of anesthesia. Second, it is difficult to continuously monitor the onset, duration, and recovery of tinnitus in individual animals using previously developed behavioral models. We have taken two steps to overcome these technical limitations."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Effect of Salicylate on Outer Hair Cell Piezoelectricity for Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: A
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Hong-Bo Zhao, Ph.D., M.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Kentucky Medical Center, Department of Surgery-Otolaryngology, Lexington
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $99,710, 2 years
PURPOSE: "In the lab we gave animals salicylate treatment and tested changes in their inner ear sensitivity to sounds. We found that the long-term use of salicylate increased acoustic emission, meaning it increased inner ear sensitivity and also increased sounds that the ear emits (yes, the ear emits sounds, too!). In our study, this increased sensitivity was reversible and the animals slowly recovered after we stopped the use of salicylates. Acoustic emissions originate from the outer hair cells (the cochlea has both inner and outer hair cells),
which can amplify sounds in the mammalian inner ear to help animals and humans hear. Outer hair cells can also produce electric signals when stimulated by sound. This signal is called outer hair cell piezoelectricity. We found that it increased after long-term use of salicylate."
Click to read the full research report


back to top

ATA RESEARCH REPORTS: ROADMAP PATH B

PROJECT NAME: Neuroplasticity, Behavior and Therapeutic Training in an Animal Model of Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: B and C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Michael Brian Calford, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Newcastle, Australia
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $96,740, 1 year
PURPOSE: "The cochlea, a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear, processes
sound by transforming it from physical vibrations (like the bass rhythm one might feel at a concert) into “electrochemical” signals that the brain interprets as sound. These vibrations activate different neurons (cells) in the ear depending on the frequency of the incoming sound. High frequency sounds vibrate the outside of the cochlea’s spiral; low frequencies vibrate the inside. This pattern of neural stimulation repeats throughout the hearing pathways of the brain. This means that different cells in the brain respond to different frequencies, just like ear cells do."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus and Hyperactivity in the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Fusiform Cells: Biophysical Changes
ROADMAP PATH: B
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Paul Finlayson, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $49,954, 1 year
PURPOSE: "This research will study the cellular changes affecting brain cell hyperactivity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus, which directly receives input from the auditory nerve. We will examine the movement of the ions that control the electrical activity in the cells."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus – Physiological Changes in Awake Behavioral Model
ROADMAP PATH: A and B
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Richard Salvi, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: State University of New York at Buffalo
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $166,977, 2 years
PURPOSE: "Our objective with this research is to measure the abnormal neural activity in the auditory cortex — activity that we think is responsible for tinnitus — and see if it is closely correlated with the perception of tinnitus. To accomplish this objective, we need to be able to record the neural activity from the auditory cortex of awake, behaving animals that can report to us when they are experiencing tinnitus or if the tinnitus is absent. Previous studies of tinnitus have generally been done on anesthetized animals. Since anesthetics depress neural activity and can abolish the perception of tinnitus, previous research results were confounded by the unwanted effects of anesthesia. Second, it is difficult to continuously monitor the onset, duration, and recovery of tinnitus in individual animals using previously developed behavioral models. We have taken two steps to overcome these technical limitations."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Cellular Mechanisms of Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: B
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Athanasios Tzounopoulos, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $75,000, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Recent studies have shown that individuals with tinnitus have increased neuronal activity in certain areas of the brain. We hypothesize that the same cellular mechanisms responsible for mediating plasticity in these areas may also underlie tinnitus. Determining these mechanisms will point to specific drug treatments that may reduce or alleviate tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


back to top

ATA RESEARCH REPORTS: ROADMAP PATH C

PROJECT NAME: Neuroplasticity, Behavior and Therapeutic Training in an Animal Model of Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: B and C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Michael Brian Calford, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Newcastle, Australia
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $96,740, 1 year
PURPOSE: "The cochlea, a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear, processes
sound by transforming it from physical vibrations (like the bass rhythm one might feel at a concert) into “electrochemical” signals that the brain interprets as sound. These vibrations activate different neurons (cells) in the ear depending on the frequency of the incoming sound. High frequency sounds vibrate the outside of the cochlea’s spiral; low frequencies vibrate the inside. This pattern of neural stimulation repeats throughout the hearing pathways of the brain. This means that different cells in the brain respond to different frequencies, just like ear cells do."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Navigated Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) in Chronic Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Christian Gerloff, M.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Tuebingen, Germany
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $47,420, 1 year
PURPOSE: "rTMS is currently under investigation worldwide as a potential treatment for various disorders, we are systematically exploring its potential for the treatment of tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Clinical Trial of Acamprosate for Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: William Martin, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: Oregon Hearing Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $73,829, 3 years
PURPOSE: "The study will further determine if there are patient-related factors (e.g., degree of hearing loss, duration of their tinnitus, depression, anxiety or insomnia) that we can use to predict whether or not acamprosate will be helpful for a specific patient. It will also help increase our understanding of the brain's role in tinnitus and improve future designs of new, effective treatments."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Suppressive Effect of Electrical Stimulation on Tinnitus Related Neural Activity
ROADMAP PATH: C 
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jinsheng Zhang, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $162,027, 3 years
PURPOSE: "The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) is a structure in the brain’s auditory system. Several lines of evidence show that sound exposure, the most common tinnitus inducer, causes hyperactive neural activity in the DCN. The goal is to find out if transcutaneous (through the skin) electrical stimulation would suppress DCN hyperactivity."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Active Suppression of Pulsatile Tinnitus: Step 1: Ear Canal Measurement
ROADMAP PATH: A and C 
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Robert A. Levine, M.D.
INSTITUTION: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $75,000, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Pulsatile tinnitus is very distinct; patients hear it with every heartbeat. One cause of pulsatile tinnitus is abnormal blood flow in arteries or veins so close to the inner ear that the patient hears it. We concluded that we can simultaneously record EKG and an ear canal recording microphone system. The technique of using an EKG to extract ear sounds related to pulsatile tinnitus from the other sounds in the ear still requires further refinement and remains under development. Once we can confidently isolate the tinnitus sound, we intend to use noise-cancellation technology to silence it."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Understanding and Optimizing Residual Inhibition
ROADMAP PATH: C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Larry Evan Roberts, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: McMaster University, Department of Psychology, Hamilton, Canada
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $130,009, 2 years
PURPOSE: "Most people experience tinnitus as a constant noise. But some people can suppress their tinnitus by listening to a masking sound — an external sound that covers the tinnitus. When the external masking sound is switched off, the tinnitus may be dampened or even eliminated for 20 to 30 seconds, or for a few minutes in some cases. This temporary suppression of tinnitus is called residual inhibition (RI). The team is studying RI to understand how tinnitus is generated by the brain."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Music to Treat Tinnitus
ROADMAP PATH: C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Richard S. Tyler, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $102,580, 3 years
PURPOSE: "Music is pervasive in our lives. Many people use it to relax or for listening pleasure. Most clinical patients perceive tinnitus as a stressful sound, so it is natural that they choose listening to music to combat their condition. Some patients find the use of broadband noise (a “whooshing” sound) unpleasant or disturbing when they use it to mask their tinnitus. Music, on the other hand, provides a natural alternative for those needing to surround themselves with background sound to cope with their tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Preliminary Investigation on the Effectiveness of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
ROADMAP PATH: C
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Richard S. Tyler, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $93,500
PURPOSE: "Tinnitus retraining therapy has been reported to have an 80% success rate, but had not been tested before in a controlled study. Retraining therapy is based on the theory that tinnitus distress is a result of learned behavior. Retraining therapy involves two main parts: directive counseling, and the use of wearable noise generators set to a very specific level, referred to as the “mixing point.” The tinnitus must be heard above the noise for habituation to occur. In this study, we compared patients who received retraining therapy with those who received the counseling but who used the noise generators as maskers (and should therefore not have experienced habituation). We also compared retraining therapy patients with a group who received directive counseling only."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus Suppression
ROADMAP PATH: C and D
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Fan-Gang Zeng, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of California, Irvine, California
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $88,066, 1 year
PURPOSE: "One misperception is that, except for masking tinnitus, for instance with music, tinnitus does not interact with external sounds. In our opinion, this misperception has severely limited our options in treating and potentially curing tinnitus. Different from masking, which typically requires a masker to have higher intensity and similar pitch to the tinnitus, tinnitus suppression can occur with sounds that are softer and potentially more pleasant than the tinnitus. The novel aspect of our research is to understand interaction between tinnitus and external sounds, using acoustic and electrical stimulation, with a particular focus on searching for external sounds that can effectively suppress tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report


back to top

ATA RESEARCH REPORTS: ROADMAP PATH D

 

PROJECT NAME: Self-Help Books for Tinnitus-Related Distress: Do They Really Help?
ROADMAP PATH: D
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: John Malouff, Ph.D., J.D., Nicola Schutte, Ph.D., and William Noble, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences at University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $39,859, 1 year
PURPOSE: "Establish if a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) self-help book helps alleviate tinnitus distress and elucidate the relationship between emotional functioning and tinnitus acceptance."
Click to read the full research report


PROJECT NAME: Tinnitus Suppression
ROADMAP PATH: C and D
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Fan-Gang Zeng, Ph.D.
INSTITUTION: University of California, Irvine, California
$ AMOUNT FUNDED: $88,066, 1 year
PURPOSE: "One misperception is that, except for masking tinnitus, for instance with music, tinnitus does not interact with external sounds. In our opinion, this misperception has severely limited our options in treating and potentially curing tinnitus. Different from masking, which typically requires a masker to have higher intensity and similar pitch to the tinnitus, tinnitus suppression can occur with sounds that are softer and potentially more pleasant than the tinnitus. The novel aspect of our research is to understand interaction between tinnitus and external sounds, using acoustic and electrical stimulation, with a particular focus on searching for external sounds that can effectively suppress tinnitus."
Click to read the full research report