Research Topic

Tinnitus: an attempt to confront the diverse models

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Tinnitus refers to a ringing in the ear and/or head without the presence of external acoustic stimulation. It affects 10-20% of the general population and is a considerable health problem that can debilitate patients by causing depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Due in part to limited understanding of ...

Tinnitus refers to a ringing in the ear and/or head without the presence of external acoustic stimulation. It affects 10-20% of the general population and is a considerable health problem that can debilitate patients by causing depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Due in part to limited understanding of its underlying mechanisms, effective treatments remain elusive. Over the last 15 years, researchers around the world have made tremendous efforts in understanding the underlying mechanisms of tinnitus and its treatment and have gleaned a large volume of data using both human and animal models. Numerous methods have been employed to address the complexity of tinnitus etiology, including molecular biology, electrophysiology, pharmacology, neuroimaging, behavioral assays, and mathematical modeling.

Currently, it is widely believed that the most common type of tinnitus develops from central changes instigated by cochlear damage. The past years have witnessed an expansion of the tinnitus field in the sense that many central models have been proposed to account for tinnitus. Indeed, it has been suggested that tinnitus may result from a release of central inhibition, a cortical reorganization of the tonotopic map, an increase of central gain, or an unmasking of non-auditory pathways. Most of these models come with a therapeutic approach aimed at correcting tinnitogenic mechanisms.

We believe that the time has come to confront these different models regarding the origin of tinnitus. In this context, the goal of this Research Topic is to challenge the plausibility of these models and to clarify the similarities and differences between them. As a consequence, models, original and review articles are welcome. We encourage authors to discuss and argue for their preferred model vs. other models when applicable. For example, if the authors believe that tinnitus is related to hypersynchrony, they may also consider the alternative view that tinnitus may result from increased spontaneous firing, and articulate why they favor the first hypothesis (or vice versa). This Research Topic also welcomes clinical and fundamental studies in animals and humans dealing with the mechanisms of tinnitus and/or the psychoacoustic properties of tinnitus. Of special interest is to bridge animal and human studies of tinnitus.

Overall, we believe that this Research Topic will benefit the tinnitus field in particular and sensory neuroscience in general by including original articles aimed at promoting discussion and debate about the origins of tinnitus.


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