Research update: Understanding the origins of tinnitus

Here is an update from Dr Will Sedley, Newcastle University, on one of the projects we are currently supporting.

By Lucy Straker · August 5, 2023

Tinnitus UK is a leading investor in tinnitus research. Here is an update from Dr Will Sedley, Newcastle University, on one of the projects we are currently supporting. 

‘Chronic’ tinnitus is a common condition, and just means tinnitus that has been there for a long period of time, typically six months or longer. Almost all research conducted with people with tinnitus has been on chronic tinnitus.  

Yet, all chronic tinnitus has to start somewhere, and we believe that this initial period when tinnitus first begins may hold a lot of insight into the causes and mechanisms of the condition, which may become all but undetectable once the tinnitus has become chronic. 

In this innovative research study, funded by Tinnitus UK and RNID, we are studying volunteers whose tinnitus began less than four weeks ago, and comparing the results obtained to matched groups of people without tinnitus at all, or with chronic tinnitus, and also to the same individuals after six months, once their tinnitus has become chronic.  

This ability to study the same individuals at multiple time points of their tinnitus course is particularly powerful. We are taking a variety of measures, including tinnitus symptoms, perception of external sounds, resting-state brain activity, and brain responses to sounds at frequencies similar to, and different to, individuals’ tinnitus. 

The first study is nearing completion, with all participants already studied for their first set of measurements, and the new-onset tinnitus group are mid-way through returning for their repeat testing after 6 months from tinnitus onset.  

We presented preliminary findings at the Tinnitus Research Initiative conference in Dublin in June 2023, and aim to publish a first full set of findings before the end of the year. Further similar studies will follow, following on from the results of this first study. 

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