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Sensory Precision in Tinnitus

Take part in a study investigating whether tinnitus changes how the brain processes sensory inputs.

  • Research Participant
  • Participate


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 relatively lack of research investment in tinnitus by pharmaceutical companies, which is to a large extent due to the lack of an objective marker of (i.e. a ‘biomarker’) of tinnitus that can be used to predict and track the response to treatments.

This study aims both to reveal key brain mechanisms of tinnitus, and lead to the development of a biomarker of tinnitus that can be used in the development and testing of new tinnitus treatments. However, this study is not developing or testing a treatment in and of itself.

The basis of the study is automatic predictions made by the brain in the processing of sounds. The experiment itself involves using electroencephalography (EEG) to measure your brain activity while we play you various sounds, mainly short beeps. As the study measures automatic responses by your brain, you just need to stay awake, and can watch a subtitled movie while the experiment takes place.

Volunteer Criteria

The researcher is looking for a control group of participants to compare with participants who have previously taken part and have tinnitus.

Therefore to take part in this study you:

  • must not experience chronic tinnitus
  • must have normal or slightly impaired hearing
  • must be right handed

The age groups the researcher is specifically looking for are: men aged 65-80 and women aged 30-43.

What will I be asked to do?

You will be asked to visit the lab on two occasions.

During the first visit, there will be a hearing test and a questionnaire about reaction to sounds. This visit will take approximately 30 minutes.

During the second visit, there will be an EEG recording which takes approximately 1.5 - 2 hours. 

During the EEG recording, a tight-fitting cap that holds electrodes will be places on your head to measure brain activity. The sensors have to be covered with gel to make sure they make a good connection. The gel washes out of hair easily. The testing lab has towels and shampoo if you would like to wash the gel out afterwards. 

Once the cap is in place, you will watch a film of your choice whilst sounds are played to you through headphones. 

When and where?

The study will take place at Newcastle University Medical School.

Appointments will be arranged between you and the researcher.

Will I get anything for taking part?

You will receive £7.50 an hour for taking part.


  • Newcastle University Medical School
  • Framlington Place
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • NE2 4HH

Sensory Precision in Tinnitus Discussion

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  • Ian Fairclough
    22nd February 2020

    "must not experience chronic tinnitus" - what does this mean?

    must have normal or slightly impaired hearing - I am high tone-deaf in my left ear does this qualify?

    must be right-handed - WOW - that's me :)

    I did one of these a couple of weeks ago - but I wasn't what they were looking for.

    I think the volunteer requirements should be more detailed :(

    Kate Yukhnovich
    24th February 2020

    Dear Ian,

    "Tinnitus is a common phenomenon, in which people hear continuous sounds in the absence of an external source producing those sounds." "Must not experience chronic tinnitus" means that the participant should not experience buzzing/ringing in their ears.

    "Normal or slightly impaired hearing" - this requirement is mostly there as the computer tasks include sounds played to you through headphones, so unfortunately the high-tone deafness would have caused an issue and disqualified you from the study.

    Kind regards,