Normal hearing young adults with mild tinnitus: Reduced inhibition as measured through sensory gating

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Julia Campbell *
Connor Bean
Alison LaBrec
(*) Corresponding Author:
Julia Campbell | julia.campbell@austin.utexas.edu

Abstract

Decreased central inhibition, possibly related to hearing loss, may contribute to chronic tinnitus. However, many individuals with normal hearing thresholds report tinnitus, suggesting that the percept in this population may arise from sources other than peripheral deafferentation. One measure of inhibition is sensory gating. Sensory gating involves the suppression of non-novel input, and is measured through cortical auditory evoked potential (CAEP) responses to paired stimuli. In typical gating function, amplitude suppression is observed in the second CAEP response when compared to the first CAEP response, illustrating inhibitory activity. Using this measure, we investigated central inhibitory processes in normal hearing young adults with and without mild tinnitus to determine whether inhibition may be a contributing factor to the tinnitus percept. Results showed that gating function was impaired in the tinnitus group, with the CAEP Pa component significantly correlated with tinnitus severity. Further exploratory analyses were conducted to evaluate variability in gating function within the tinnitus group, and findings showed that high CAEP amplitude suppressors demonstrated gating performance comparable to adults without tinnitus, while low amplitude suppressors exhibited atypical gating function.


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