Notched Music Therapy For Tinnitus

Notched Music Therapy For Tinnitus

Notched music therapy is a relatively new treatment option for those suffering from tinnitus. While the research into its effectiveness is still in its early stages, some promising early results have already been observed.

Tailor-made Notched Music Therapy (TMNMT) is a type of sound therapy that reduces tinnitus loudness and related cortical activity through lateral inhibition caused by taking away the spectral energy band centered around the tinnitus frequency. According to research by Okamoto, Stracke, Stoll, and Pantev[7], individuals with chronic subjective tinnitus who listened daily for one to two hours to tailored notched music experienced an overall reduction in their tinnitus loudness as well as decreased auditory cortex activity[7].

TMNMT is composed of a series of notch filters that eliminate the spectral energy band centered around each participant’s tinnitus frequency from a music signal. The bands below and above this notch are equalized so that power is equally distributed throughout both low- and high-frequency ranges in the music.

The spectral notch width of music is determined using a pitch-matching procedure, which involves playing two tones to a patient and asking which tone most closely resembles their perceived tinnitus pitch. A notch filter with a frequency half an octave wider than this patient’s perceived tinnitus pitch has been found most effective at blocking neural activity in auditory cortex related to it, as well as decreasing loudness related to it and activation in affected auditory areas.

A recent randomized controlled trial involving 104 Thai patients with chronic subjective tinnitus found that notched music therapy proved more successful than ordinary music at improving symptoms related to tinnitus, such as emotional scores and Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) scores. Patients received tailor-made notched music and Ginkgo biloba, and their progress was monitored at 1, 3, and 6 months.

A pilot study was conducted with participants with moderate to severe hearing loss wearing amplified signals with notch filters. They were able to habituate to their tinnitus similarly to those with normal hearing, and the results of objective measurements were independent of their hearing status at three months.

Notched noise therapy utilizes white or pink noise with the tinnitus frequency filtered out, and patients listen to this sound for several hours daily over several months. While not as successful in relieving tinnitus as music-based TMNMT, it has been demonstrated to reduce loudness of tinnitus sounds and decrease cortical activity within regions related to it in the brain.

Wearable sound generators, which look like small hearing aids and produce a constant signal similar to static noise, are available. These can be worn inside or behind the ear and should be fitted by a professional as part of a larger tinnitus treatment plan.

Notched sound therapy may not be as accessible for those suffering from tinnitus as other sound-based therapies, such as hearing aids. To get optimal results, it must be used in collaboration with an audiologist and requires specialized equipment; however, many patients have reported success using it.

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