tDCS and Computer Games to Expedite Habituation

Discussion in 'Research News' started by jazz, Jun 24, 2013.

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    1. jazz
      No Mood

      jazz Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      eardrum rupture from virus; barotrauma from ETD
      The University of Auckland is testing tDCS and sound-intensive games as methods to shorten habituation, which is commonly cited as between one and two years.

      Brain stimulation aims to speed up tinnitus treatment
      June 12th, 2013 in Neuroscience /

      (Medical Xpress)—A combination of brain stimulation and video games may be the key to speeding up treatment for tinnitus sufferers.

      Studies led by Head of Department for The University of Auckland's Audiology section, Dr Grant Searchfield, have shown that these treatments were effective in a shorter time than traditional tinnitus treatment.

      Tinnitus (often associated with a ringing in the ears) is the 'perception of a sound in the absence of an auditory stimulus' that affects about 20 per cent of the population to an annoying level, and about 3 per cent to a level that has an impact on their quality of life.

      Traditional treatment involves counselling and non-invasive hearing sound therapy using hearing aids to reduce the tinnitus signal, says Dr Searchfield. Sufferers can get benefits from this treatment, but it takes a long time and is ineffective for some people.

      Tinnitus is one of several brain disorders (such as amblyopia or lazy eye), where the function of the organ is not the source of the problem, but rather the way the brain interprets information is at fault.

      Hearing loss normally results in a reduction in activity within the auditory nerve, but in tinnitus while this happens at the nerve, the nerve pathways in the brain show increases in activity or new connections.

      The department's latest study looked at a technique called 'trans-cranial direct current stimulation' (or tDCS) and its intensity and duration effects on tinnitus suppression. The study concluded that specifically, an anodal current of two milliamps for 20 minutes of tDCS was the best stimulus and had potential as a clinical tool for reducing tinnitus.

      "While at an early stage of development for tinnitus this technique enables us to alter the balance of excitation and inhibition in particular regions of the human brain", says Dr Searchfield. "The key to this is brain plasticity, or the natural ability of the brain to change."

      "Other new treatment concepts include sound intensive games, varying the frequency and intensity of sounds in the game depending on the individual's level of tinnitus, " he says. "These studies showed that a task that involves listening is more likely to get a response and a change."

      "The idea is that there may be many different sub-types of Tinnitus and we may be able to train individuals differently depending on their complaints."

      Each day before the individual plays a particular game they calibrate it for their own level of tinnitus, customising game play to respond at the right level.

      "Perceptual training using computer games is in its infancy, but showing promise." says Dr Searchfield. "The use of games may be an important alternative to passive listening management for tinnitus treatment."

      "As there is proven connectivity between the senses, such as sight usually used to confirm what you can hear, we are starting to use that in new trials with tinnitus sufferers using integration and attention-diversion approaches."

      "These sensory changes are strongly dependent on the brain and the management of these problems are also strongly dependent on the brain, " says Dr Searchfield. "For example, in tinnitus you could cut the auditory nerve and the person would still have tinnitus, it would have no effect."

      "Through collaborations in the Centre for Brain Research we are now taking our understanding of hearing and combining this with groups who have expertise in brain stimulation, vision and the phramacology of the brain to develop world-first treatments for tinnitus".

      "Visual and auditory problems tended to affect the aging population more, so we will be faced with an increasing burden of sensory problems and need a means to tackle those, hopefully within shorter periods of time", he says. "Treatments that take 12 months are too long and take up clinical resources. Our new concepts could possibly be delivered over the internet, increasing access and reducing the burden on clinicians and cost to patients."

      Next year, The University of Auckland will be hosting the 8th International TRI Tinnitus Conference from the 10th to the 13th of March looking at the themes of neuroplasticity, multi-sensory integration, multi-disciplinary collaboration and innovation.

      Provided by University of Auckland

      "Brain stimulation aims to speed up tinnitus treatment." June 12th, 2013.
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    2. t-man

      t-man Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      More money sunk into "habituation," i.e. finding better ways to ignore the problem rather then mending it.
    3. jazz
      No Mood

      jazz Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      eardrum rupture from virus; barotrauma from ETD

      I'm hoping neuromodulation techniques might one day lead to a cure! They've only been recently applied to tinnitus, and the technologies are still new. So far, most experiments with tDCS and rTMS have evidenced a lessening of symptoms--but the results were transitory. In this study, forty-four percent of individuals experienced a long term amerlioration of their symptoms. That is significant.

      Don't forget that tinnitus itself is a symptom, not a disease. It is caused by something else. It is usually associated with hearing loss, but not always. Because tinnitus has multiple causes, most researchers believe there will be several treatment modalities needed--depending on the specific cause. For some people, it's possible that neuromodulation will be the only treatment modality that works. So this is not money wasted--in my opinion. It is money invested in the future! :) Utilizing sound therapy with computer games, moreover, also may be curative. Sound therapy is based on good science, but more research is needed and is being conducted.

      But the best cure will be prevention. It's always easier to prevent something than treat it afterwards. Right now, AM 101 looks promising for preventing tinnitus from developing. But even therapeutics like steroids or HBOT have been proven to help some people. How many people on this board were offered therapy for their tinnitus while it was still new? I wasn't, and I saw three doctors within two months of my trauma. So this is where the real problem is: getting the medical profession to wake up and try to help us!

      Here's the pubmed link to the tDCS portion of the study cited above:
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