Zap the ringing away.

One that hits close to my heart. University of Texas researchers have come up with a way to zap tinnitus:

Researchers Dr. Michael Kilgard and Dr. Navzer Engineer from The University of Texas at Dallas and University-affiliated biotechnology firm MicroTransponder report that sounds paired with stimulation of the vagus nerve eliminated tinnitus in rats.

“Brain changes in response to nerve damage or cochlear trauma cause irregular neural activity believed to be responsible for many types of chronic pain and tinnitus,” he said. “But when we paired tones with brief pulses of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), we eliminated the physiological and behavioral symptoms of tinnitus in noise-exposed rats.”

The researchers are, in essence, retraining the brain to ignore the nerve signals that simulate ringing. They monitored the laboratory rats for several weeks after therapy, and the improvements persisted.

The initial set of human participants will have the electrodes attached to the left vagus nerve in their necks as part of a short outpatient procedure. They will return to the clinic every weekday for a few weeks of treatment. At each session, they will experience VNS paired with sounds.