Nearly 15 percent of people are usually affected by a condition called tinnitus. It is a condition where people hear a constant ringing or buzzing in the ear. It has been quite difficult for experts to understand the reason behind this condition and treat it. However, now a team of scientists has revealed that an electric shock combined with a specifically designed sound program to the tongue might be able to treat this problem. Scientists have said that the electric shock to the tongue might reduce the symptoms of the disorder within and one year after the treatment. A neurobiologist Dr, Christopher Cederroth has said that the findings of the study are constant with other past researches. These studies say that bimodal stimulation can assist the brain to regulate unruly neurons. The Bimodal stimulation uses sound combined with some sorts of gentle electric shock. The new study has been published in Science Translation Medicine.
The author of the study Hubert Lim has discovered the role of the tongue in tinnitus by accident. A few years ago, he used a technique called deep brain stimulation to reinstate the hearing ability of his patients. He inserted a pencil size rod laced with electrodes into the brains of five patients. There had been some of the electrodes, which landed outside the target zone during the experiment. Later, when the author tried to observe the effect of the experiment on the brains of the patients, he found that patients, who were complaining of ringing ears, were not able to hear any buzzing in the ear anymore. Experts have said that some of the patients, who are dealing with tinnitus, hear real sounds such as muscle contractions in the ear. However, in the majority of cases, the brain is responsible for it. Further experiments on guinea pigs have revealed the best body parts, which can be stimulated to treat tinnitus. Lim and his colleagues have experimented with body parts like ears, neck, and limbs, in the end; they have found the tongue to be the best body part for brain stimulation.
The authors have experimented with the same procedure on humans as well. Around 326 people with tinnitus have been included in the study. They have been made to sit for an hour with a plastic paddle on their tongue. These plastic paddles have been laced with tiny electrodes to stimulate the brain. The volunteers of the study have been made to wear headphones during the study for a more targeted hit on the brain’s auditory function. Experts have said that each participant has been able to hear rapidly changing tones at different frequencies against background noise. Over the 12 weeks of treatment, more than 80 percent of participants have shown improvement. Experts have reported an average reduction of 14 points on tinnitus severity score. After 12 months, a follow-up has shown that 80 percent of volunteers have lower tinnitus scores with an average reduction of 12.7 to 14.5 points.