Hayes became interested in tinnitus while working in the lab of
Salvi, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Communicative
Disorders and Sciences and a member of the international Tinnitus
“I wanted to do research that is clinically
relevant—research with the goal of helping people suffering
from a disorder or helping to find cures for different neurological
disorders,” she says.
“I’m also interested in the fact that tinnitus is a
phantom auditory perception. Trying to understand how we perceive
the world is fascinating.”
For her PhD thesis, Hayes will examine the relationship between
tinnitus and stress.
Although tinnitus itself causes stress, elevated stress can
worsen the condition and even make the perceived sound louder.
Researchers don’t yet understand the mechanism by which
chronic stress may contribute to tinnitus.
Nor have they discovered a cure for the condition, which affects
20 percent of the population.
It was previously believed that tinnitus resulted from inner ear
damage, but studies conducted by Salvi and colleagues in the 1990s
suggest that it originates in the brain.