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Habituation and tinnitus: an experimental study.

Journal article
Authors Sven G. Carlsson
Soly I Erlandsson
Published in Journal of psychosomatic research
Volume 35
Issue 4-5
Pages 509-14
ISSN 0022-3999
Publication year 1991
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 509-14
Language en
Keywords Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Anxiety, psychology, Arousal, Auditory Threshold, Defense Mechanisms, Female, Galvanic Skin Response, Habituation, Psychophysiologic, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Sick Role, Tinnitus, psychology
Subject categories Psychology


The study is an experimental test of Hallam's habituation theory of tinnitus; this theory implies that the huge variation in suffering among individuals with about the same amount of tinnitus is due to differences in habituation to the perceived sound. Fourteen patients, seven 'complainers' and seven 'noncomplainers', participated in an experiment where we studied changes in skin conductance and heart rate responses to a series of tinnitus-like sound stimuli. No group differences in habituation were observed. We suggest that facilitatory processes, like disinhibition, may be more important than deficient habituation for the inability, in some individuals, to adapt to their tinnitus.

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