People Needed for a Hearing Study
Tinnitus is a common phenomenon, in which people hear continuous sounds in the absence of an external source producing those sounds. Presently we have an incomplete understanding of the mechanisms in the brain that lead to tinnitus, which is one of the major factors preventing the development of effective treatments to suppress or eliminate the tinnitus sound itself. Another major factor is the lack of research investment in tinnitus by pharmaceutical companies, which is, to a large extent, due to the lack of an objective marker (i.e. a ‘biomarker’) of tinnitus that can be used to predict and track the response to treatments.
In previous studies, this lab has found potential context effects on the brain responses of healthy participants to the frequencies of the sounds in the biomarker we are developing. This study aims both to investigate any such context effects, and lead to further development of a biomarker of tinnitus that can be used in the development and testing of new tinnitus treatments.
- Age 18 or over (so that the person can provide informed consent)
- The ability to make and communicate an informed choice about whether to take part in the study
- The ability to sit still in a comfortable chair for around 1 hour at a time - this is because the EEG recordings are sensitive to muscle movements e.g. yawning and stretching
- Normal hearing to mildly impaired hearing (there will be a hearing test during the study) - this ensures that participants can hear all of the sounds coming from the computer.
Exclusion criteria (all of these could affect the EEG recording):
- Tinnitus (persistent sound heard in one or both ears that is not coming from an external sound source or due to a physical sound source in the body, such as turbulent blood flow or muscle contractions in the ear)
- Meniere’s disease
- Any abnormality of brain structure (e.g. stroke, tumour), or other neurological disorder (e.g. multiple sclerosis or epilepsy)
- The ongoing use of sedating medications, or certain other nerve-acting medications
- A current mental health condition of sufficient severity to prevent certain activities of everyday life.
What will I be asked to do?
Following a questionnaire that confirms your eligibility, you will visit the Newcastle University Medical School.
The 1.5-2 hour visit will include the following:
- A hearing test (pure tone audiogram);
- A computerised task to determine a comfortable volume of the tones (beeps) to be used in the EEG recording;
- An EEG session - in this, a fabric cap is placed over your head, with a number of spots of gel placed in it. This cap records the electrical signals your brain naturally generates. This takes around 30 minutes to set up, and then the recording runs for around 60 minutes. The most important things you need to do during the EEG session are to stay awake, keep your eyes open, and keep your head, face, neck and body in a relaxed state;
As the experiment measures automatic responses to the sounds, we intend that you will be able to watch a subtitled movie of your choice during the experiments. However, it is possible that, in order to make the brain responses clearer, we will need to ask you to perform some simple tasks.
When and where?
Newcastle Medical School.
Dates and times are to be arranged based on each individual's availability.
Will I get anything for taking part?
You will get £10 as a thank you for taking part in the study, and your travel expenses covered.
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