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Plasticity in Tinnitus Patients: A Role for the Efferent Auditory System?

Geven, Leontien I.*†; Köppl, Christine; de Kleine, Emile*†; van Dijk, Pim*†

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000307
Sensorineural Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Hypothesis The role of the corticofugal efferent auditory system in the origin or maintenance of tinnitus is currently mostly overlooked. Changes in the balance between excitation and inhibition after an auditory trauma are likely to play a role in the origin of tinnitus. The efferent auditory system can be expected to be involved in such changes.

Background The goal of this article was to investigate the current knowledge of the functional efferent auditory system in humans, mostly based on animal research, and to look for new possibilities to try to answer the question of the specific role(s) of the corticofugal efferent auditory system in tinnitus.

Methods Literature review.

Results Several suggestions for future research are made, for studies in humans as well as in animals.

Conclusion We think that it will be worthwhile to investigate the efferent auditory system and its relations to tinnitus in the near future. With this article, we hope to inspire such work.

Department of *Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, †Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Research School of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands ‡School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Neuroscience, and Research Center Neurosensory Science, Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, Germany

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Leontien I. Geven, M.D., Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands; E-mail:

This study was supported by the Heinsius Houbolt Foundation and is part of the research program of our department: Healthy Ageing and Communication.

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