Toward An Exploration of Habituating to Tinnitus: Perspectives on Sensory Gating

J Am Acad Audiol. 2019 Nov/Dec;30(10):896-903. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.18038. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Background: Some tinnitus participants habituate to their tinnitus, but some others do not and complain of its annoyance so much. It has been suggested that tinnitus is a habituation deficit. Habituation and the ability to ignore a sensory input depend on the normal function of filtering mechanism of sensory gating.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare behavioral aspects of sensory gating in normal and tinnitus participants to search for the reason why some tinnitus participants habituate to their tinnitus but some others do not.

Research design: This investigation was an observational case-control study.

Study sample: There were 60 tinnitus participants who were categorized into two tinnitus groups (30 compensated tinnitus participants and 30 decompensated tinnitus participants) based on the complaint of tinnitus annoyance, visual analog scale (VAS) for tinnitus loudness, annoyance, and awareness, scores on Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ), and Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). Also, there were 30 normal hearing participants without tinnitus as the normal control group.

Data collection and analysis: Sensory Gating Inventory (SGI), TQ, THI, and VAS was obtained from all participants. THI, TQ, VAS, and SGI total scores and their factors were compared among the groups. Correlations between SGI scores with THI, TQ, and VAS score were calculated.

Results: The results showed that SGI total score and the scores of its four factors were significantly higher in decompensated tinnitus participants compared with compensated tinnitus participants and normal controls. Also, there was a positive correlation between SGI perceptual modulation factor and TQ emotional distress factor and with the VAS for loudness in decompensated tinnitus group.

Conclusions: These results suggested that tinnitus associated with behavioral aspects of sensory gating and decompensated tinnitus may be a result of deficient sensory gating.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensory Gating*
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology*