Pilot study in tinnitus: D-cycloserine and cognitive training

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A pilot study has shown that combining computer-based cognitive training and d-cycloserine helps patients to cope better with tinnitus. The study was carried out by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, USA and was published on October 30 in the JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery. Its objective was to test whether a putative neuroplasticity-enhancing drug, D-cycloserine, can be used to facilitate a computer-assisted cognitive training (CT) program for improving the annoyance associated with tinnitus and related cognitive difficulties.

The researchers chose a randomized, double-blind design to assess the combination and enrolled 34 participants 35 to 65 years of age with subjective, unilateral or bilateral, non-pulsatile tinnitus of at least 6 months’ duration. For five weeks, participants were given twice-weekly computer-based CT with either 250 mg D-cycloserine or placebo given orally before the computer CT sessions. Patients were asked to fill out various tinnitus assessments and questionnaires to assess changes in tinnitus bother over the duration of the study.

30 participants were included in the final analysis and it was found that the D-cycloserine plus CT group tolerated the drug well and showed a significant improvement in median scores and self-reported cognitive deficits, while this was not the case in the placebo group.

“There is a lot of evidence that D-cycloserine can help people train their brains,” says Prof. Piccirillo, senior author on the paper and Professor of otolaryngology. “It facilitates neuroplasticity and is known to be effective in fear extinction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders. And now we have evidence that it has some benefit in tinnitus.”

Source: MedicalXpress; Krings JG., et al. A Novel Treatment for Tinnitus and Tinnitus-Related Cognitive Difficulties Using Computer-Based Cognitive Training and D-Cycloserine. JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery. 2014 Oct 30.

C.S.