Logo for the Journal of Rehab R and D

Volume 46 Number 5, 2009
   Pages 619 — 632

Abstract – Auditory test result characteristics of subjects with and without tinnitus

James A. Henry, PhD;1-2* Kenneth E. James, PhD;1,3 Kimberly Owens, MPH;1 Tara Zaugg, AuD;1 Edward Porsov, MS;2 Grayson Silaski, BSEE1

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, National Center for
Rehabilitative Auditory Research, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR; Departments of 2Otolaryngology
and 3Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Abstract — Tinnitus is the perception of sound that does not have an acoustic source in the environment. Ascertaining the presence of tinnitus in individuals who claim tinnitus for compensation purposes is very difficult and increasingly becoming a problem. This study examined the potential to observe differences in loudness and pitch matches between individuals who experience tinnitus versus those who do not. This study follows a previous pilot study we completed that included 12 subjects with and 12 subjects without tinnitus. The current study included 36 subjects with and 36 without tinnitus. Results of this study revealed no significant differences between groups with regard to decibel sensation level (SL) loudness matches and within-session loudness-match reliability. Between-group differences revealed that the tinnitus subjects had (1) greater decibel sound pressure level loudness matches, (2) better between-session loudness-match reliability, (3) better pitch-match reliability, and (4) higher frequency pitch matches. These findings support the data from our pilot study with the exception that decibel SL loudness matches were greater for the tinnitus subjects in the pilot study. Tinnitus loudness and pitch matching may have some value in an overall battery of tests for evaluating tinnitus claims.

Key words: compensation, hearing disorders, loudness matching, loudness perception, malingering, pitch matching, pitch perception, rehabilitation, reliability of results, tinnitus, tinnitus diagnosis.

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