What if there was an exercise you could do to help your tinnitus, would you do it? For almost everyone who suffers from tinnitus the answer is yes. The painful ringing or buzzing noises are more than just annoying, they can be also disrupt your entire daily routine. In hopes to help find a better and more effective treatment for tinnitus, researchers have been studying the correlation between cognitive exercises and tinnitus. Yes, brain exercises may be in your future!
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine recently published a study in JAMA Otolaryngology that showed positive results from brain exercises when coping with tinnitus. This research doesn’t show that brain exercises will cure tinnitus, but more so that it can help patients better cope with the constant ringing, and ultimately, help them ignore it. In the study, 40 adults with tinnitus were introduced to an online brain exercise program and 20 non-tinnitus sufferers also participated. This program, which was meant to help patients learn how to focus on other stimuli despite their tinnitus, showed promising results. Selected participants used the online brain training for 1 hour a day, for 5 days, and for a total of 8 weeks. Each training session had the goal of helping a person focus on either a sound or visual stimuli while gradually teaching that person to ignore their tinnitus. Throughout the study, brain scans were used to look at areas that controlled memory and attention, those who had used the online program had positive changes in their brain scans throughout their “workout sessions”. At the end of the 8 weeks, half of the participants who had used the online program expressed that they felt improvements to their tinnitus and overall ability to concentrate and remember, as opposed to the participants who did not use the online program. The results of this study make researchers hopeful that they can create a cognitive exercise that will essentially be able to train the brain to pay less attention to tinnitus and more attention to external stimuli.
There may be something to those brain-teasers we love after all. Continuing to learn and improve your memory is always encouraged, especially when we all live busy and stressful lives. If you need help with your tinnitus, you can give your local hearing care professional a call. They will be able to help you better understand the cause of your tinnitus and will help you form a treatment plan.