Monash University

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Chronic tinnitus - seeking new insights into an intractable medical and social problem

posted on 2017-02-15, 04:47 authored by Dixon, Ian Edward
The underlying cause of chronic tinnitus (Cl) has not yet been described and there is no universally successful treatment at this time. Chronic tinnitus is a phantom sound that sometimes causes significant distress. Spontaneous remission from CT is rare in adults but not children. An association between tinnitus factors such as aging, hearing deficit and diabetes is unclear. This research has sought a new explanation for CT through the examination of a wide range of literature and the building an in-depth and broad understanding of hearing related research and other aspects that could be relevant. Initial experimentation with ear homeostasis using a variety of pressure devices did not achieve significant lasting changes to hearing thresholds, so a study involving 110 adult participants was conducted to test the hypothesis that apoptosis (a process of orderly cell death in vivo) is elevated in people with chronic tinnitus. Using tinnitus severity and handicap inventories, the taking of blood samples and measurement of apoptosemia in blood samples using cytochrome C as the read-out, no significant differences in apoptosemia between participant subgroups was detected. Using auditory scene analysis (ASA) and the observations of typical tinnitus remission in children, an ASA-model of chronic tinnitus onset and maintenance has been developed and which matches well-known literature - including the reported ability of specialised sounds to suppress tinnitus in adults with tinnitus - and that could help direct future research in the field.


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Principal supervisor

Brian Lithgow

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Electrical and Computer Systems

Additional Institution or Organisation

Faculty of Engineering (Monash University)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Information Technology

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