New research links tinnitus to ‘centres in the brain’ as well as ears damage

Detroit doctors successfully pinpoint brain area activated during ailment

New research suggests that tinnitus is linked to the brain and not just ear damage as previously thought.

Researchers at Detroit‘s Henry Ford Hospital have found that it is possible to define the area of the brain that is activated when a person is suffering from the condition, reports BBC News.

The results has led doctors to hope that they will be able to development new kinds of therapies for the condition, where sufferers hear sounds when there is no external source, often experienced as a hissing or beeping-style sound.

The researchers used Magnetoencephalography (MEG) scans to measure magnetic fields in subjects’ brains as they played them simulated tinnitus sounds that matched the noises they usually suffer with.

Dr Michael Seidman, director of Neurologic Surgery at the hospital, said that using MEG had helped them gain more precise results than found through previous studies.

“It’s like having the lights on in only the city of Detroit, compared to having the lights on in the entire state of Michigan,” he said.

Elaborating on the process, he said: “Using MEG, we can actually see the areas in the brain that are generating the patient’s tinnitus which allows us to target and treat it.

“Another part of the brain that lights up is the limbic system which is supposed to govern how we react to things. This may explain why some patients can fairly successfully ignore their tinnitus, while others find themselves fixated on it.”