Science Translational Medicine Tinnitus Study – Hubert Lim

So what is tinnitus or tinnitus? 
People know it as ringing in the ears,   but really it's a sound that's 
being coded in your brain   when there's no actual sound coming in through 
your ears from the external environment.   And it can be quite bothersome and debilitating 
for many individuals in our society. About 10 to   15 percent of the population are affected 
by this condition. When you think about   other neurological or psychiatric conditions like 
epilepsy or depression, you know we're talking   about numbers like one percent or five percent 
but here 10 to 15 percent of the population What does this device consist of? 
It basically has these headphones   that are connected to the controller through 
Bluetooth. So you wear these and you're going   to be presented with customized sound to your 
hearing thresholds. You also have this component   that goes into your mouth called the tongue 
tip and it just rests on your mouth like this.

When it's placed in your mouth it basically tells 
the controller that everything is connected along   with your headphones, and you're able to then 
adjust the parameters on this device. You can   change the intensity of this tongue tip that 
sends gentle electrical pulses to your tongue.   It is fitted before we send the device home 
with the individual and you can also adjust   the loudness of the headphones as well. It's 
quite easy to use quickly can be fitted in the   clinic and you know we usually recommend about 
an hour a day. At least in the clinical study was   12 weeks of treatment but we found that at 
least if they use a device for 36 hours total   during that 12-week period that was sufficient 
to see significant improvements in tinnitus How did bimodal neuromodulation come to be 
tried in the tinnitus field? I mean there's   lots of other treatment options that people have 
been looking at. For example, sound presentation   approaches like maskers and music there's 
also cognitive and behavioral approaches   which have shown to have longer therapeutic 
effects over time.

But really when you   think about bimodal neuromodulation, it has 
been really a fascinating story. My lab got   into it because we were interested in driving 
changes in the brain that were more long-term,   and we know that when you pair two different 
modalities like sound and somatosensory activation   like tactile inputs and you do it in a paired 
way you can basically drive long-term changes. I was quite surprised to see that we're able 
to achieve such long-term therapeutic outcomes   in the participants. They get the treatment 
for 12 weeks and then we take the devices back   but then we track them out to 12 months   and so it was surprising and quite 
encouraging to see that you know we could   drive significant improvements in tinnitus symptom 
severity that would then last up to 12 months.   To the best of my knowledge, I don't know of any 
other studies that have been able to demonstrate   such long-term outcomes in a large number of 
individuals for treatment device or drug study.

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