Advancing Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Tinnitus

About 10 in 50 people in western societies are affected by tinnitus - in one of these cases, the condition causes severe impairment. However, no effective treatment currently exists - it is the general aim of this project to change that.


  • Lead school Business School
  • Institute Institute for New Work
  • Research unit Achtsamkeit und Positive Leadership
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration (planned) 01.10.2022 - 30.09.2026
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Andrea Gurtner
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Andreas Sonderegger
  • Project staff Adrian Herbert Heinz Naas
  • Partner Universitätsspital Zürich (Leading House)
    EPFL, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
    Universität Salzburg
  • Keywords Training, Tinnitus, Neurosciences, Psychology, Design, Mindfulness, Acouphène, Psychologie, FNS, SNSF, SNF


Tinnitus is the perception of sound or noise in the absence of any external acoustic stimulation. It affects about 15 to 20 % of the western population and in 20 % of these cases leads to a severe impairment of quality of life. Despite the high prevalence, there still is no effective therapy and sufferers are often left untreated. However, neurofeedback (NFB) is currently being investigated as a therapeutic method. NFB is a non-invasive technique for alter a person's brain activity by using acoustic and/or visual feedback to represent the person's own cerebral activity. By becoming consciously aware of their own brain activity, patients can learn to transform their typical tinnitus activity patterns.

Course of action

Up to date, hardly any systematic studies have been conducted regarding the effect of different NFB stimuli and environments on the patient. The present study (SNSF no 208164) aims to change these circumstances and to investigate specific and non-specific effects of NFB stimuli and environments with regard to cognitive load, motivation and possible long-term effects. The approach sets itself apart from the current research approach, as the setting of NFB is usually described only sparsely and receives little attention through systematic scientific examination. Additionally, the project aims to address the critical open link between neural correlates of NFB and possible behavioural changes.


It is our overarching goal to provide sufferers with a treatment option for tinnitus. This requires the optimisation of NFB by means of the following strategies: (i) A systematic development of advanced NFB environments and stimuli. (ii) The refinement of NFB protocols to improve the specific alteration of tinnitus-typical neural activity patterns. (iii) The optimisation of NFB treatment application in the home setting.

Looking ahead

The most important results of the research project will be: * Best practice guidelines * Data sets * NFB stimulus designs (auditory and visual) * Software tools The results will be made openly available to the scientific community, treatment practitioners and the general public. In addition, all results will be disseminated through high-impact publications in the following disciplines: Neuroscience and Behavioural Sciences, Cognitive Ergonomics, Sound, Visual and Interaction Design.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 3: Good health and well-being