Neuromonics is a device that is dispensed by an audiologist or a doctor that uses music for tinnitus treatment. Because music routes through the hearing parts of the brain, there is the potential for music to mask tinnitus. Perhaps more importantly, music also has clear associations with the emotional parts of the brain. Even passive listening to pleasant music can stimulate the parts of the brain that are associated with pleasant emotional states.
The use of music as a masker had been proposed as early as the late 1980’s, and the successful applications of music therapy for tinnitus has been demonstrated by numerous institutes. Newer more sophisticated approaches are using music signals to achieve neuroplastic changes in the brain in order to achieve tinnitus relief. For instance, in the Neuromonics approach, the music signal is adjusted to conform to the hearing test of the tinnitus sufferer, such that the frequency profile of the music is amplified in regions of hearing loss and attenuated in regions of normal hearing.
In a study performed by the company, Davis and colleagues (2008) compared the effectiveness of a customized sound/music tinnitus retraining (Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment) with counseling alone. Patients were divided into one of four groups: 1) Neuromonics device at high intensity for two hours per day, 2) Neuromonics device at a lower intensity, 3) tinnitus therapy with a broadband stimulator and counseling, or 4) counseling alone. Subjects were instructed to listen to the devices for two hours per day at the time of day when symptoms were most severe.
Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (TRQ) improved over the 12 months of the study for the Neuromonics group. TRQ scores were not significantly improved in the control groups. At the six-month follow-up, 86% of patients in the customized acoustic stimuli groups had met the definition of success based on 40% improvement in the TRQ scores. Normalized visual analogue scores for tinnitus severity, general relaxation, and loudness tolerance were improved relative to both baseline and control group’s scores at 12 months. Perceived benefits were also greater with the customized acoustic stimulus.