Investigating the Impact of Cognitive Training for Individuals With Bothersome Tinnitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive training in improving tinnitus bother and to identify predictors of patient response. Study Design: Prospective open-label randomized controlled trial. Setting: Online. Methods: Participants were adults with subjective idiopathic nonpulsatile tinnitus causing significant tinnitus-related distress. The intervention group trained by using auditory-intensive exercises for 20 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for 8 weeks. The active control group trained on the same schedule with non–auditory intensive games. Surveys were completed at baseline, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks. Results: A total of 64 participants completed the study. The median age was 63 years (range, 25-69) in the intervention group and 61 years (34-68) in the control group. Mixed model analysis revealed that within-subject change in Tinnitus Functional Index in the intervention group was not different than the control group, with marginal mean differences (95% CI): 0.24 (–11.20 to 10.7) and 2.17 (–8.50 to 12.83) at 8 weeks and 2.33 (–8.6 to 13.3) and 3.36 (–7.91 to 14.6) at 12 weeks, respectively. When the 2 study groups were compared, the control group had higher Tinnitus Functional Index scores than the intervention group by 10.5 points at baseline (95% CI, –0.92 to 29.89), 8.1 at 8 weeks (95% CI, –3.27 to 19.42), and 9.4 at 12 weeks (95% CI, –2.45 to 21.34). Conclusion: Auditory-intensive cognitive training was not associated with changes in self-reported tinnitus bother. Given the potential for neuroplasticity to affect tinnitus, we believe that future studies on cognitive training for tinnitus remain relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-861
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • auditory intensive
  • cognitive training
  • neuroplasticity
  • tinnitus


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