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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2013 Apr;14(2):275-82. doi: 10.1007/s10162-013-0371-6. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Tinnitus and patterns of hearing loss.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK.


Tinnitus is strongly linked with the presence of damaged hearing. However, it is not known why tinnitus afflicts only some, and not all, hearing-impaired listeners. One possibility is that tinnitus patients have specific inner ear damage that triggers tinnitus. In this study, differences in cochlear function inferred from psychophysical measures were measured between hearing-impaired listeners with tinnitus and hearing-impaired listeners without tinnitus. Despite having similar average hearing loss, tinnitus patients were observed to have better frequency selectivity and compression than those without tinnitus. The results suggest that the presence of subjective tinnitus may not be strongly associated to outer hair cell impairment, at least where hearing impairment is evident. The results also show a different average pattern of hearing impairment amongst the tinnitus patients, consistent with the suggestion that inner hair cell dysfunction with subsequent reduced auditory innervation is a possible trigger of tinnitus.

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