The potential interruptive effect of tinnitus-related distress on attention

Sook Ling Leong, Stephanie Tchen, Ian H. Robertson, Ola Alsalman, Wing Ting To, Sven Vanneste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The mechanism through which tinnitus affects attention is unclear. This study examines whether distress mediates the relationship(s) between tinnitus and sustained, selective and executive attentions as well as response inhibition. Eighteen participants with tinnitus and fifteen controls completed the Counting Stroop, Vigilance and Stop Signal tasks. Tinnitus distress was assessed using the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ), severity of depressive mood states examined using the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and general distress assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Tinnitus participants had significantly slower reactions during the Vigilance task (F = 4.86, p =.035), and incongruent trials of the Cognitive Counting task (F = 3.45, p =.045) compared to controls. Tinnitus-related distress significantly mediated the effect of tinnitus in incongruent trials (TQ: Sobel test t = 1.73, p =.042) of the Cognitive Counting Task. Complaints of distress and concentration difficulties are common amongst tinnitus patients in clinical settings and these afflictions have been shown to negatively impact an individual’s quality of life. If confirmed in future studies, results suggest that distress may be an important factor in the causal mechanism between tinnitus and attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11911
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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