A Brief History of S-Tones®
In 2006, researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) began working with a patient with a cochlear implant who was suffering from tinnitus. Traditional treatment approaches were attempted, but failed to provide relief. They applied a low frequency sound, at a comfortable loudness via the patient's cochlear implant and discovered that this relieved the patient's tinnitus-for the first time in two years, all he heard was a calming, pleasant tone produced by the low-rate stimulus. Transferring this technology from a cochlear implant to sounds anyone could hear led to the creation of S-Tones, the foundation of the SoundCure Serenade® technology.
S-Tones are Temporally Patterned Sounds
S-Tones are designed to produce synchronized, robust neural activity in the auditory cortex. Figure 1 shows that patterned sounds that are too slow or too fast are not effective, but at the right rate cause neurons to fire synchronously to the sound stimulus.
S-Tones in Action
Studies by researchers suggest that the use of S-Tones may play a role in promoting tinnitus suppression. According to a UCI researcher, "The mechanisms underlying tinnitus suppression are different from those in tinnitus masking. Masking attempts to divert a patient's attention away from the tinnitus. Suppression is a physiologic process where sounds - in this case, patterned sounds - may likely be modulating the activity of the auditory cortex and interrupting tinnitus generation."
Further, synchronized neural activity is described this way in a research paper:
"Within 30 seconds, the subject started to experience some tinnitus suppression and by 120 seconds reported being unable to hear his tinnitus. This is an example of 100% suppression."
S-Tones do not need to be loud to be effective, researchers have discovered: "A sound is presented that is softer than the level of the tinnitus, which may completely eliminate the perception of the tinnitus. The overall level of the sound environment is less than the tinnitus alone."
Research is ongoing and the treatment sounds continue to be studied.
Our Sound Therapy Suite
Tinnitus is not a simple condition that can be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore SoundCure offers a variety of sound therapy tracks from which your audiologist can choose to treat your unique condition. SoundCure's unique S-Tones, custom narrowband stimuli, and broadband sounds are all provided to enable your hearing healthcare provider to find the most effective solution for you.
S-Tones are the treatment tones that are unique to the Serenade device. They are unlike broadband or narrowband sounds and do not have a "shhh" sound, but rather their own distinct sound and treatment effect. More detailed information about S-Tones can be found on this site, including on the Clinical Information page.
Broadband sound is white noise, or a "shhh" sound. Many patients find this soothing. The term "white noise" refers to a sound which encompasses all possible sound frequencies at once, much as white light includes all color frequencies of the visual color spectrum.
Narrowband sound is similar to broadband sound, but instead of including all possible sound frequencies it includes only those within a certain range, or band (hence a "narrower band" of frequencies.) To the user, it also has a "shhh" sound, though at a different pitch than white noise. It may be at a higher pitch and sound more like a sizzle or at a lower pitch and sound more like wind in a cove.
The Serenade device also allows the clinician to assess the patient's "hypermonitoring" of his tinnitus. Often a patient perceives his tinnitus to be very loud, and therefore experiences suffering as a result. However, when the tinnitus is objectively measured, it is actually soft. The discrepancy between this over-perception of the loudness of one's tinnitus and the actual loudness when measured is referred to as hypermonitoring. With the testing for the Serenade device, this is quantifiable. Knowing the degree to which the tinnitus is perceived to be very loud to the patient helps to validate the patient's current perception, and can help both the hearing healthcare professional and the patient to better understand why the tinnitus can be so bothersome. One goal of tinnitus management is to correct this misperception of tinnitus as "very loud" so that it becomes less bothersome to the patient.