UAMS Recruiting People with Tinnitus for Study on Potential Improvements to Treatment

By Holland Doran

The study involves the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive treatment that the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for other uses, such as migraines and depression, but not tinnitus.

The study will enroll 60 participants, men and women ages 19-89 who have experienced mild-to-moderate tinnitus with mild-to-moderate or no hearing loss for at least the last six months. Those interested in participating may call (501) 526-7988 or email

Tinnitus affects about 17 percent of Americans, causing “phantom” sounds such as ringing, clicking or hissing, said Mark Mennemeier, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and director of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Laboratory in the Center for Translational Neuroscience (CTN) at UAMS.

“The sounds can change with the time of day and often cause sleep problems and emotional distress,” said Mennemeier, who received a $50,000 pilot grant for the TMS study from the UAMS Translational Research Institute. UAMS’ John Dornhoffer, M.D., is a co-investigator on the study.

Prior studies, including those by Mennemeier, have shown that TMS reduces tinnitus symptoms in about 50 percent of patients and is well tolerated with no significant side effects, he said. During a TMS procedure, a magnetic field generator, or “coil,” is placed on the patient’s head and produces small electrical currents in the brain immediately under the coil. The coil is connected to a pulse generator, or stimulator, that delivers electrical current to the coil.

“This study aims to learn if we can increase the percentage of people who respond to TMS treatment and if we can extend the relief of symptoms using follow-up maintenance treatments,” Mennemeier said. “Another goal of our research is to gain FDA approval for TMS as a treatment of tinnitus.”

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state's Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and four dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.