Here is the full transcript of Josef Rauschecker’s TEDx Talk on Tinnitus: Ringing in the Brain at TEDxCharlottesville conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Tinnitus_ Ringing in the Brain by Josef Rauschecker at TEDxCharlottesville
I would like to talk with you about a medical disorder that is incredibly common, and yet it gets often underestimated – misunderestimated, as one of our former presidents would have said – in its impact on our psychology and on the patients. The patients really suffer from it.
And it’s very pervasive; about 50 million Americans suffer from it. I bet many of you in the audience will have friends or family that suffer from it.
What I’m talking about is tinnitus, the ringing in the ears. It’s often depicted in this painting by Edvard Munch although we don’t know for sure whether he actually had tinnitus himself. But the person in the painting is sort of covering his or her ears, and it doesn’t help because the ringing is actually generated in the brain.
It’s not a real sound that, that a person hears; it’s a phantom sound. So we often talk about it as ringing in the brain rather than ringing in the ears.
And of those 50 million Americans that suffer from it, about 10 million of them really suffer very badly – they go to the extent that they have depression and suicidal thoughts. And I get emails every day from patients that are asking, “Is there not a cure?” There is no cure, unfortunately, at this point. And part of our research is aiming for that, of course, that we’re trying to find ways to help these patients.