New Audio App to Treat Tinnitus

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Tinnitus affects the ears but it originates in the brain. The condition, which causes ringing in the ears, is mainly triggered by age-related hearing loss and prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise. But neuroscientific studies reveal that tinnitus is a symptom of abnormal hyperactivity in the brain’s auditory cortex. While most people affected by it resign themselves to chronic pain, Tinnitracks, a new web-based app, claims to treat the cause of the problem through filtered audio therapy.

The premise of the app, from German startup Sonormed, is neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt and constantly learn new things. The app analyzes individual tracks and filters the frequency that causes tinnitus for each user. On playback, the listener’s hearing adapts to the audible alteration (or notches) and over time the hyperactivity in the brain is toned down. Essentially, it takes three steps: select music files from personal collection, filter tinnitus frequency and upload a personalized track to an MP3 player to start therapy.

Tinnitracks was one of nine winners at SXSW’s Accelerator startup competition this past weekend. The therapy breaks ground by going a step beyond conventional methods of managing symptoms and effectively treats the condition that affects 50 million Americans. The prescribed music listening experience is one to two hours a day for at least six months. With consistent effort, the therapy could treat subjective, tonal and even chronic conditions. For those who still insist on taking on the high-decibel concert season without earplugs, this might be a good app to bookmark.

First published at engadget.com.

Mona Lalwani

Mona Lalwani is a freelance journalist with a focus on culture and technology. She contributes to The Verge and Medium. Before moving to New York she was the associate editor of Platform magazine in India.

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