VIRA - Volumetric and Imaging Regional Analysis

Even exposure to loud noise resulting in temporary deafness often leads to conditions such as tinnitus. Noise over-exposure has been a major risk factor for chronic tinnitus for those in occupations associated with noisy environments. Currently, there is no effective treatment for tinnitus. This emphasizes the need to determine metrics that will allow for longitudinal studies of tinnitus progression. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to track longitudinal changes in tinnitus related neuronal activity using manganese enhanced MRI (MEMRI). MEMRI uses the paramagnetic manganese (Mn2+) ion, a contrast agent and calcium channel probe, to assess calcium channel linked neuronal activity. In addition to activity, neuronal volume has also been suggested to change in people with chronic tinnitus. We examine temporal and spatial changes in brain volume longitudinally in several auditory brain regions following a single noise exposure. We also use the Acoustic Startle Reflex (ASR) as a behavioral measure of tinnitus. Together, these techniques allow for a better understanding of the effects of noise over-exposure on the progression of tinnitus.


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Holt Laboratory - Molecular Anatomy of Auditory Related Central Systems (MARCS)