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Overactive nerves in head and neck may account for 'ringing in the ears'
Date:1/10/2008

d Biomedical Engineering measured the patterns of activity of neurons in the brains of normal and deafened guinea pigs. They used a 16-electrode array to measure signals from the trigeminal nerve and multisensory neurons in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. When they compared results in the two groups, they found clear differences in trigeminal nerve activity.

The study shows that in deafened animals, the somatosensory response is much stronger than in animals with normal hearing, Shore says.

Shores research team knew from earlier research that some neurons in the cochlear nucleus become hyperactive after hearing damage, and this hyperactivity has been linked to tinnitus in animals.

This study shows that it is only those neurons that receive somatosensory input that become hyperactive, she says, which should make the search for treatments for tinnitus in some people more straightforward.

Many people with temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), a condition that causes frequent pain in the jaw, experience tinnitus. Shores research could lead to a better understanding of this link. In people with TMJ, the somatosensory system is disrupted and inflamed. Shore says that its possible that in this situation, as in hearing loss, somatosensory neurons stir excessive neuron activity in the cochlear nucleus.


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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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Overactive nerves in head and neck may account for 'ringing in the ears'
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