People with persistent ringing in their ears — a called tinnitus — may process emotions in the brain differently from people who do not have the condition, according to a new study.
Using fMRI scans, researchers looked at people's brain activity while the listened to pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sounds. The study included people with tinnitus, people who had hearing loss but not tinnitus and people with normal hearing.
The investigators found that when they played the pleasant and the unpleasant sounds, the amygdala, a brain region associated with processing emotions, had less activity in the tinnitus and hearing-loss patients than in people with normal hearing. When researchers played the pleasant sounds, tinnitus patients had more activity than people without tinnitus in two other brain regions associated with emotion, the parahippocampus and the insula.
"The amygdala isn't the only player," when it comes to processing emotional sounds in people with tinnitus, study researcher Fatima Husain, a professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Live Science.
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