An operant-based detection method for inferring tinnitus in mice.

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Subjective tinnitus is a hearing disorder in which a person perceives sound when no external sound is present. It can be acute or chronic. Because our current understanding of its pathology is incomplete, no effective cures have yet been established. Mouse models are useful for studying the pathophysiology of tinnitus as well as for developing therapeutic treatments.

New method

We have developed a new method for determining acute and chronic tinnitus in mice, called sound-based avoidance detection (SBAD). The SBAD method utilizes one paradigm to detect tinnitus and another paradigm to monitor possible confounding factors, such as motor impairment, loss of motivation, and deficits in learning and memory.


The SBAD method has succeeded in monitoring both acute and chronic tinnitus in mice. Its detection ability is further validated by functional studies demonstrating an abnormal increase in neuronal activity in the inferior colliculus of mice that had previously been identified as having tinnitus by the SBAD method.

Comparison with existing methods

The SBAD method provides a new means by which investigators can detect tinnitus in a single mouse accurately and with more control over potential confounding factors than existing methods.


This work establishes a new behavioral method for detecting tinnitus in mice. The detection outcome is consistent with functional validation. One key advantage of mouse models is they provide researchers the opportunity to utilize an extensive array of genetic tools. This new method could lead to a deeper understanding of the molecular pathways underlying tinnitus pathology.





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Zuo, Hongyan, Debin Lei, Shobhana Sivaramakrishnan, Benjamin Howie, Jessica Mulvany and Jianxin Bao (2017). An operant-based detection method for inferring tinnitus in mice. Journal of neuroscience methods, 291. pp. 227–237. 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.08.029 Retrieved from

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Jianxin Bao

Professor in Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

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