Neural Mechanisms of Tinnitus and the Effects of Low-Level Noise Exposure on the Peripheral and Central Auditory Systems
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Subjective tinnitus, the perception of ringing or buzzing without an external sound source, and hyperacusis, an intolerance to loud sounds, can be severely debilitating disorders, and unfortunately, there remains no cure. Both tinnitus and hyperacusis are thought to emerge from aberrant neuronal hyperactivity within the central auditory system. Logically, tinnitus and hyperacusis treatment research has therefore aimed at suppressing neural activity within the central auditory system. There has been only limited success with pharmaceutical interventions; however, leveraging the auditory systems innate neuroplastic ability to alter its neural representation of sound following prolonged changes in acoustic environments has shown favorable outcomes in suppressing central hyperactivity.