Tinnitus -- that persistent ringing sound heard by about 40 million Americans -- may be caused by a pairing of brain changes, researchers reported Wednesday. But another study in animals suggests a way to address the mix-up in the brain to make tinnitus go away.
In the first study, published in the journal Neuron, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center used brain scans to examine 22 people, half of whom had tinnitus. What they found suggests that tinnitus is caused by the brain's desire to produce sounds to replace what is missing through age-related hearing loss. But when another part of the brain fails to stop these unwanted sounds from reaching the auditory processing center of the brain, tinnitus results.