Neuroscientists in the USA and Germany have discovered the brain mechanism responsible for tinnitus and chronic pain.
They report that “Its the neural mechanisms that normally control noise and pain signals that may become dysfunctional leading to a chronic perception of pain or tinnitus.”
The areas of the brain responsible for tinnitus and chronic pain are the nucleus accumbens, the reward and learning center, as well as other brain regions that serve “executive” or administrative roles, such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VNPFC), and the anterior cingulate cortex, reported the research team.
These areas of the brain are also important for evaluating and modulating emotional experiences.
It appears that these brain areas act as a central gate keeping system for how we perceive auditory stimuli and pain. It’s in these areas of the brain that we evaluate the emotional meaning of a sensory stimulus, whether produced outside of us or internally in our ears or head.
The neuroscientists, “traced the flow of signals through the brain and showed where circuit breakers should be working, but aren’t. “
Chronic pain can occur from an injury that often is healed in the body but persists inside the brain.
It appears that the brain reorganises itself after initial damage to the ear from loud noise or other issue to continue to hear a constant hum or drum. Tinnitus is a symptom that the auditory system has been affected in some way. The auditory system is very complex so identifying the site of lesion is often difficult.
The nucleus accumbens also regulates depression and anxiety.
Brain plasticity provides hope that these circuit breakers can be restored.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy combine with cognitive behaviour therapy and solution based approaches appear to provide the most effective treatment for those with tinnitus.
All information is provided in the interests of Hearing Health education and is of a general nature. In all cases you should consult your doctor or other allied health professional for advice regarding your individual circumstances.