Background: Tinnitus is a result of hyper-activity/hyper-synchrony of auditory neurons coding the tinnitus frequency, which has developed to synchronous mass activity owing the lack of inhibition. We assume that removal of exactly these frequency components from an auditory stimulus will cause the brain to reorganize around tonotopic regions coding the tinnitus frequency. Based on this assumption a novel treatment for tonal tinnitus - tailor-made notched music training (TMNMT) (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:1207–1210, 2010; Ann N Y Acad Sci 1252:253–258, 2012; Frontiers Syst Neurosci 6:50, 2012) has been introduced and will be tested in this clinical trial on a large number of tinnitus patients.
Methods and design: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) in parallel group design will be performed in a double-blinded manner. The choice of the intervention we are going to apply is based on two “proof of concept” studies in humans (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:1207–1210, 2010; Ann N Y Acad Sci 1252:253–258, 2012; Frontiers Syst Neurosci 6:50, 2012; PloS One 6(9):e24685, 2011) and on a recent animal study (Front Syst Neurosci 7:21, 2013).
The RCT includes 100 participants with chronic, tonal tinnitus who listened to tailor-made notched music (TMNM) for two hours a day for three months. The effect of TMNMT is assessed by the tinnitus handicap questionnaire and visual analogue scales (VAS) measuring perceived tinnitus loudness, distress and handicap.
Discussion: This is the first randomized controlled trial applying TMNMT on a larger number of patients with tonal tinnitus. Our data will verify more securely and reliably the effectiveness of this kind of completely non-invasive and low-cost treatment approach on tonal tinnitus.