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J Audiol Otol. 2019 Jan;23(1):1-7. English. Review.
Tai Y , Husain FT .
Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.
Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.

Self-reported difficulties in speech-in-noise (SiN) recognition are common among tinnitus patients. Whereas hearing impairment that usually co-occurs with tinnitus can explain such difficulties, recent studies suggest that tinnitus patients with normal hearing sensitivity still show decreased SiN understanding, indicating that SiN difficulties cannot be solely attributed to changes in hearing sensitivity. In fact, cognitive control, which refers to a variety of top-down processes that human beings use to complete their daily tasks, has been shown to be critical for SiN recognition, as well as the key to understand cognitive inefficiencies caused by tinnitus. In this article, we review studies investigating the association between tinnitus and cognitive control using behavioral and brain imaging assessments, as well as those examining the effect of tinnitus on SiN recognition. In addition, three factors that can affect cognitive control in tinnitus patients, including hearing sensitivity, age, and severity of tinnitus, are discussed to elucidate the association among tinnitus, cognitive control, and SiN recognition. Although a possible central or cognitive involvement has always been postulated in the observed SiN impairments in tinnitus patients, there is as yet no direct evidence to underpin this assumption, as few studies have addressed both SiN performance and cognitive control in one tinnitus cohort. Future studies should aim at incorporating SiN tests with various subjective and objective methods that evaluate cognitive performance to better understand the relationship between SiN difficulties and cognitive control in tinnitus patients.

Copyright © 2019. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors.