Tinnitus is a condition in which a patient perceives an auditory phantom sound that can take the form of ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing in the absence of an external sound. Approximately a billion of people suffer from tinnitus worldwide, while in 2% – 3% of the population, tinnitus significantly degrades quality of life of the patients and can lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Currently, there are no proven treatments for tinnitus. However, recent research has shown that tinnitus patients can benefit from electrical brain stimulation. In addition, it has been shown that there is a link between tinnitus perception and a change in the energy levels of several electrocortigography (ECoG) / electroencephalography (EEG) frequency bands. For example, the energies of theta (4-8Hz) and low-gamma (30-50Hz) waves increase, while the energy of alpha (8-12Hz) waves decreases during active tinnitus perception. The same studies suggest that the intensity of the tinnitus perception correlates with the amount of the energy increased in the gamma band.
The real-time tinnitus detection method proposed by the BME group detects tinnitus by comparing ECoG/EEG signal energies from different locations in the brain according to a tinnitus "signature". First, the proposed strategy selects appropriate ECoG/EEG bands per channel by means of band-pass filters. Next, their extracted energies are compared to their counterparts from a different (healthy) location. Tinnitus is detected only if higher theta and gamma energies while lower alpha energy is found when compared to the signals from this healthy region. The applicability of the detector is verified by means of circuit simulations with real neural waveforms and is able to successfully detect tinnitus.
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