The Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Research Laboratory

Agreement between Menodys and Univalor

MENODYS and Univalor signs an exclusive agreement to develop and market a medical device targeting audiology and tinnitus objective evaluation....
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Passage in the “Mise à jour” broadcast

Discussion about tinnitus and its symptoms - November 2103
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Sylvie Hébert, PhD, Acouphènes Québec new president

Extract of the Press release " Great news for Acouphènes Québec ", published on June 8th, 2015. May 23rd, 2015,...
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Interview – “Une cigale dans l’oreille”

"Une cigale dans l'oreille": the tinnitus nightmare Listen to this interview "Une cigale dans l'oreille " which Dre Sylvie Hébert...
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Passage in “Le Code Chastenay” broadcast

Don't miss the next episode of "Code Chastenay" broadcast on the waves of Télé-Québec. This week, eliminate the DEL blue...
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Conference: “Tinnitus : a ghost in the head!”

Tinnitus : a ghost in the head! March 30th, 2016 by Sylvie Hébert, PhD. As part of the University of...
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Radio interviews – Ear worms

Why we get songs stuck in our heads? Having a catchy song which repeats in a loop or at intervals...
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Poster presentation to the “33rd World Congress of Audiology”

Among the posters presented within the framework of this event, note the one entitled " A systematic assessment of the...
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Congrès international en audiologie et en orthophonie

This international conference, organized by the University of Montreal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, is part of the...
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Congrès international en audiologie et en orthophonie

Conference to the “Salon FADOQ 2016”

The fifth edition of the "Salon FADOQ 50 years +" - Regions of Quebec and Chaudière-Appalaches will be held from...
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Conference to the “Salon FADOQ 2016”
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The Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Research Laboratory is nested within the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research located at Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, which is jointly affiliated to Université de Montréal and McGill University. We conduct fundamental and clinical research and develop instruments to better characterize normal hearing as well as hearing pathologies.

Our research focuses on two hearing problems increasingly recognized as major public health issues, namely tinnitus and hyperacusis, and their co-morbidities.

Tinnitus – defined as a sound perceived in the ears or head in the absence of an external sound source – presents with variable pitch (humming, whistling) and loudness (soft or loud) qualities. Tinnitus affects approximately 10 to 12 % of the general population, with prevalence rates increasing up to about 30% after age 50 [1] and even higher among workers with occupational hearing loss. Our laboratory develops psychoacoustical methods to better characterize tinnitus, in order to improve its diagnosis and study how the tinnitus percept is modified by intervention.

Although tinnitus is well tolerated by most of the affected people, 1 to 2 % experience severe distress. Why this is so is poorly understood. The notion that non-auditory factors play a critical role in tinnitus-related distress is a central theme of our research program, emphasizing theaffective (distress) dimensions of tinnitus. Accordingly, our research also focuses on tinnitus co-morbidities such as stress [2-3] and sleep problems [4, 5], and how they can either modulate or be modulated, by the presence of tinnitus- a typical (and intriguing) chicken and egg conundrum.

Hyperacusis is defined as abnormally excessive intolerance to common sounds in the environment, in spite of normal or near-normal hearing. For instance, a hyperacusis sufferer cannot tolerate certain sounds perceived as normal by others, nor tolerate noisy environments. In other words, the person becomes hypersensitive to, and behaviourally ill affected by environmental sounds. Remarkably, there is no consensus concerning the prevalence of hyperacusis, partly because of a lack of objective criteria and variable definition from one study to another.

Tinnitus and hyperacusis can be viewed as pathologies of loudness perception, which is the attribute of an auditory percept that can be ordered on a scale from quiet to loud. We are interested in exploring how normal loudness is encoded in the brain and how it can be modulated in normal hearing listeners. In order to better understand the mechanisms of normal loudness, tinnitus and hyperacusis, and to plan intervention studies, our laboratory recruits highly qualified people from a wide range of disciplines: we recruit and welcome graduate students with an Audiology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Music, Engineering, and Life Sciences background.

  1. Shargorodsky, J., G.C. Curhan, and W.R. Farwell, Prevalence and characteristics of tinnitus among US adults. Am J Med, 2010. 123(8): p. 711-8.
  2. Simoens, V.L. and S. Hébert, Cortisol suppression and hearing thresholds in tinnitus after low-dose dexamethasone challenge.BMC Ear Nose Throat Disord, 2012. 12: p. 4.
  3. Hébert, S., B. Canlon, and D. Hasson, Emotional Exhaustion as a Predictor of Tinnitus. Psychother Psychosom, 2012. 81(5): p. 324-326.
  4. Hébert, S., S. Fullum, and J. Carrier, Polysomnographic and quantitative electroencephalographic correlates of subjective sleep complaints in chronic tinnitus. J Sleep Res, 2011. 20(1 Pt 1): p. 38-44.
  5. Hébert, S. and J. Carrier, Sleep Complaints in Elderly Tinnitus Patients: A Controlled Study. Ear Hear, 2007. 28(5): p. 649-655.