Objective correlates of tinnitus and cochlear synaptopath

Chiara Casolani

Tinnitus describes the perception of a phantom sound in the absence of acoustic stimulation. The severity reaches from subtle annoyance to extreme cases with severe implications on everyday life. The possible mechanisms underlying tinnitus are manyfold and not yet clearly understood. Because tinnitus is often reported in connection with hearing impairment, understanding the interplay between hearing impairment and tinnitus will provide important information about the underlying mechanisms.

This PhD project focuses on the specific case of tinnitus sufferers with audiologically normal hearing. In these listeners, the tinnitus was often initiated by a noise trauma. It has recently been shown in animal models that excessive noise exposure can lead to permanent changes in the inner ear without affecting sensitivity to sound, commonly referred to as "cochlear synaptopathy". Making use of recent insights within cochlear synaptopathy, behavioural outcome measures will be combined with novel approaches based on non-invasive electrophysiology, imaging and computational modeling to quantfy the presence of tinnitus in these listeners. Finding a connection between tinnitus and cochlear synaptopathy will provide important insights toward the development of better diagnosis and treatment methods.

To be completed in 2021

Supervisor: Bastian Epp (DTU)
Co-supervisors: James Harte (Interacoustics Research Unit) Petteri Hyvärinen (DTU)

DTU Orbit

This project is supported by the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research project TIN-ACT (Tinnitus Assessment Causes Treatment) which aims to understand how basic neural mechanisms of tinnitus can be studied in animal models and human tinnitus patients, and how complementary research techniques can be used towards curing tinnitus.


Chiara Casolani
PhD student
DTU Health Tech