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December 17, 2012

Overactive neurons can cause tinnitus

Future treatment could regulate cells' electrical activity

Overactive neurons can cause tinnitus

Researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK have shown that uncontrolled activity in the brain's cells (neurons) can be one of the causes of tinnitus.

With this study, the researchers have therefore found one of the reasons for tinnitus. This means that a new cure for tinnitus could be possible.

The research shows that loud noises can cause hearing loss and trigger uncontrolled activity in the brain's neurons. These neurons are situated in an area of the brain known as the dorsal cochlear nucleus, where the brain interprets signals from the ears' hair cells.

The cells' over activity can be coupled with the brain's potassium channels, which regulate the cells' electrical activity. Loud noises inhibit the potassium channels' effect, leading to the cells constantly being active.

“Normally, the potassium channels help the cells return to their state of rest. But after being subjected to loud noises, the channels do not function as well and the cells are therefore constantly active,” says Martina Hamann, professor at the University of Leicester, UK.

New treatment

With the results of the study, the researchers hope to find a new treatment for tinnitus. A treatment which can cause the cells to return to their natural state of rest.

The research is however still in its initial phase, so any possible cure should not be expected in the near future.

Source: Auris, number 4, 2012

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