Randomized trial of transcranial direct current stimulation and hearing aids for tinnitus management

Giriraj Singh Shekhawat, Grant D. Searchfield, Cathy M. Stinear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The perception of sound in the absence of an external sound is tinnitus. Tinnitus can have a severe negative impact on quality of life. Objective. This trial investigated whether multisession anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the left temporoparietal area would enhance sound therapy from hearing aids. Methods. Forty participants (mean age = 54 years) experiencing chronic tinnitus (minimum 2 years) completed a 7-month long double-blind randomized clinical trial. Participants were randomized into 2 groups: control receiving sham tDCS and experimental receiving tDCS. Each group underwent multisession (5 consecutive sessions with 24-hour gap) anodal tDCS (2 mA intensity and 20 minutes duration) of the left temporoparietal area, followed by hearing aid use for 6 months. The impact of tDCS and hearing aid use on tinnitus was assessed using questionnaires (primary measure: Tinnitus Functional Index) and minimum masking level measurement. Results. There was a significant reduction in the overall Tinnitus Functional Index score with time, F(2, 37) = 11.9, P = .0001, for both the groups. Similar patterns were seen for secondary measures. tDCS appeared to have a positive effect on minimum masking levels but not questionnaire responses. Conclusions. After 3 months of hearing aid use, there were significant improvements in tinnitus, which were sustained at 6 months of use. The hearing aid effects appeared independent of tDCS. Further investigations of tDCS or other neuromodulators priming the auditory system for sound therapy based tinnitus treatments are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-419
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Hearing aids
  • Neuromodulation
  • Tinnitus
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tdcs)
  • Treatment


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