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to generate tinnitus perception. Currently, animal-based versions of psychophysical tuning curves are lacking. Development of this paradigm in preclinical models would provide an opportunity to further advance tin- nitus research and enhance translation.
Challenge to Psychoacousticians
Psychophysical measures of tinnitus are numerous. In general, these measures have been applied to match attributes of tinnitus, determine the affective impact of tinnitus, and identify the site of lesion and subtyping of tinnitus physiological origin. It is apparent that most psy- choacoustic measures such as PM, LM, and MML do not reliably correlate with measures of tinnitus reaction. The use of numerical rating scales, visual analog scales, and questionnaires on affective elements appear to best capture elements of tinnitus reaction.
Tools to assess affective elements have been established in humans but represent a challenge for animal models. The important question is, do animals experience tin- nitus related distress? From clinical data, the majority of individuals who experience tinnitus are not disabled by it. It is thus reasonable to expect only a minority of ani- mals will be debilitated by tinnitus. To address this issue, a large number of animals would be needed in studies of tinnitus-related distress, with careful consideration of
confounding variables (e.g., housing, animal handling).
The overarching question, given the state of the science, is how can we use principles from psychophysics to identify one or several measures of tinnitus using perceptual attri- butes of tinnitus that can differentiate individuals who actually experience tinnitus from persons with reported tinnitus but no actual tinnitus perception? Furthermore, how can we use psychophysical experiments to better inform our understanding of the tinnitus neurophysi- ology. With improved models, further progress can be attained to lead to novel therapeutics for the manage- ment of tinnitus.
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