Narrator: This is Science Today. If you've ever gone to a loud concert or cranked up the volume on an MP3 player one too many times, you may have experienced an internal ringing sound in one or both ears. This is a form of hearing damage called tinnitus and while some treatments exist, none have been consistently effective. Fan-Gang Zeng, director of the speech and hearing lab at the University of California , Irvine , says the simple way to treat tinnitus is to make a sound that's louder than the sound perceived.
Zeng: We call that masking and what we found in this particular patient that we have worked with is that it simply does not work. The tinnitus is so loud, just imagine if you try to use another external sound to mask it, just how loud that would be.
Narrator: Instead, Zeng and his colleagues used an MP3 player to apply a low-pitched sound. This successfully suppressed and provided temporary relief to the patient.
Zeng: So, we played with this case and we found out we can use a sound that's totally different from tinnitus and somehow that sound suppresses his tinnitus.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.