News & Events
November 19, 2014
Vagus nerve stimulation – a new treatment for tinnitus?

Researchers at four centres across America are about to start a clinical trial to test a new technology which uses nerve stimulation and audio tone therapy to “rewire” specific parts of the brain to treat tinnitus

The new clinical study uses a technique called vagus nerve stimulation paired with audio tone therapy to try and correct these tinnitus producing changes in the brain. This technology makes use of the brain’s natural ability to reorganise the way messages are transmitted to different areas of the brain.

This ability to reorganise nerve connections and circuits is called “neuroplasticity” and is the process which allows us to learn and make associations between different events. One of the ways this can happen is by stimulation of the vagus nerve which releases chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which strengthen connections between nerves and can lead to “rewiring” of brain pathways.  The vagus nerve runs from the body to the brain and is unlike any other nerve because one of its functions is to tell the brain what to learn. For example, if you experience a stressful event that puts you at risk, the vagus nerve is activated and sends a signal to the memory centres of the brain to strengthen the memory of that event so that next time you are in a similar situation, you will be extra cautious.