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Audiol > Volume 5(1); 2009 > Article
Audiology 2009;5(1): 13-19.
Published online: December 31, 2009.
doi: http://doi.org/10.21848/audiol.2009.5.1.13
Neural Mechanisms and Models of Tinnitus Generation
Woojae Han, Fatima T. Husain
Department of Speech and Hearing Science, College of Applied Health Science University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL USA
Correspondence  Woojae Han ,Tel: +1-217-417-1378, Fax: +1-217-244-2235, Email: whan5@illinois.edu
Received: November 6, 2009;  Accepted: November 26, 2009.  Published online: December 31, 2009.
Tinnitus is an auditory phantom sensation - it is the false perception of sound in the absence of an external source. Tinnitus can be managed, but there is no cure. Tinnitus affects approximately 10-20% of the population and is often accompanied by hearing loss. The hearing loss causes reorganization of the central auditory processing pathways and associated areas in the brain, possibly leading to tinnitus. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are poorly understood. This paper reviews possible regions exhibiting activity related to tinnitus, from the cochlea to the primary auditory cortex, and the mechanisms that may underlie tinnitus generation. However, tinnitus is complex phenomenon and no single mechanism or brain region can account for all tinnitus sub-types or symptoms. In addition, somatosensory system and limbic system, with their strong connections to the central auditory processing pathways may be involved in tinnitus generation and persistence. Although, there have been advances in understanding neural mechanisms of tinnitus, particularly due to brain imaging studies in humans, there is still a paucity of data linking objective measure of tinnitus, obtained using brain imaging techniques, to subjective behavioral measures.
Key Words: Tinnitus·Tinnitus model·Neural mechanism of tinnitus·Tinnitus generator·Auditory system·Somatosensory system·Limbic system.
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