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An Integrative Tinnitus Model Based on Sensory Precision

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Will Sedley, Professor Tim GriffithsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Tinnitus is a common disorder that often complicates hearing loss. Its mechanisms are incompletely understood. Current theories proposing pathophysiology from the ear to the cortex cannot individually - or collectively - explain the range of experimental evidence available. We propose a new framework, based on predictive coding, in which spontaneous activity in the subcortical auditory pathway constitutes a 'tinnitus precursor' which is normally ignored as imprecise evidence against the prevailing percept of 'silence'. Extant models feature as contributory mechanisms acting to increase either the intensity of the precursor or its precision. If precision (i.e., postsynaptic gain) rises sufficiently then tinnitus is perceived. Perpetuation arises through focused attention, which further increases the precision of the precursor, and resetting of the default prediction to expect tinnitus.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sedley W, Friston KJ, Gander PE, Kumar S, Griffiths TD

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Trends in Neurosciences

Year: 2016

Volume: 39

Issue: 12

Pages: 799-812

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 18/11/2016

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 0166-2236

ISSN (electronic): 1878-108X



DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.10.004