What’d you say?

Science Daily pipes up with news that Berkeley scientists might have just cured the non-stop ringing of tinnitus:

“This work is the most clearheaded documentation to this point of what’s actually happening in the brain’s cortex in ways that account for the ongoing genesis of sound,” said Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus of otolaryngology at UC San Francisco and inventor of the cochlear implant, who was not involved with the research. “As soon as I read the paper, I said, ‘Of course!’ It was immediately obvious that this is almost certainly the true way to think about it.”

“With the loss of hearing, you have phantom sounds,” said Bao, who himself has tinnitus. In this respect, tinnitus resembles phantom limb pain experienced by many amputees.

One treatment strategy, then, is to retrain patients so that these brain cells get new input, which should reduce spontaneous firing. This can be done by enhancing the response to frequencies near the lost frequencies.

He demonstrated that two drugs that increase the level of GABA eliminated tinnitus in rats. Unfortunately, these drugs have serious side effects and cannot be used in humans. He has applied for several grants to start screening drugs for their ability to enhance GABA receptor function, increase the synthesis of GABA, slow the re-uptake of GABA around nerve cells, or slow its enzymatic degradation.

Oddly, just a few hours ago I was reading about vitamin B6 increasing levels of GABA, which helped in dream recall. Strange how loud music can be connected to dreams.