Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 577-589

A two-choice sound localization procedure for detecting lateralized tinnitus in animals

  • Henry E. HeffnerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Toledo Email author 


Rats were trained in a two-choice procedure to respond in the direction of left and right sounds. Silent trials, on which no sound was presented and for which the animals received no feedback, were interspersed among the sound trials to determine each animal’s natural side preference. Following training, the rats were exposed to a loud tone in the ear opposite their side preference. A shift in responding on the silent trials to the side of the exposed ear indicated that the animals were hearing a sound in that ear (i.e., tinnitus). Simulating lateralized tinnitus by presenting a low-level, continuous sound on one side also caused the rats to shift their responding on the silent trials to that side. Sham exposures indicated that halothane/nitrous oxide anesthesia could reinstate tinnitus in animals that had previously tested positive for it. Exposing rats to loud tones of various frequencies indicated that frequencies near the limits of the rat’s hearing range were less likely to cause tinnitus than tones in the midrange.


Tinnitus Anesthesia Noise exposure Sensorineural threshold shift Lateralization Operant behavior Rat