Chapter

What is tinnitus?

Jos J. Eggermont

in The Neuroscience of Tinnitus

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199605606
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741555 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605606.003.0001
What is tinnitus?

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Tinnitus is a perceived sound that is variable in pitch and loudness and is without an attributable external source. Even people who do not experience it in normal circumstances experience tinnitus when they are in a sound proof room for a few minutes. This suggests that normal environmental sounds are capable of masking this neural activity. Objective forms of tinnitus can typically be traced to body sounds. If these can be excluded the remaining tinnitus is called subjective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is person specific and its description varies widely with ‘ringing’ or ‘hissing’ among the most used descriptions. Its prevalence is increased by exposure to occupational and recreational noise, but not necessarily by aging. Hearing loss is the most common underlying substrate of tinnitus. It is likely a result of abnormal neural activity and resembles ‘phantom pain’.

Keywords: spontaneous activity; objective tinnitus; pain; subjective tinnitus; homeostatic plasticity

Chapter.  7400 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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