Audio mutung for people who hear voices

I have an acquaintance who hears voices in her head. Can anyone comment of the state of research with regards to the topic of band-aiding sufferers? Specifically I’m interested in trials which perpetually play certain audio (like a constant hum maybe?) that can block the voices. My friend says that loud music doesn’t do the job, but I’m thinking that maybe, similar to how noise cancellation software works, the voices can be effectively muted.
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You can’t mute sounds that aren’t real. Your friend needs medication prescribed by a mental health professional.

In the news recently, using digital avatars and brain stimulation to quiet voices:

There is also a cultural component to the messages heard, with societal influences on their perceived benevolence/malevolence:

I suffer from moderately-severe tinnitus in one ear and I can confirm that SOMETIMES the noise sounds like voices. The voices are indistinct and seem far away, but, the human brain being what it is, my mind tries to construct the sounds into some type of conversation. However, I know and understand that this is similar to people trying to find spoken language when listening to electronic voice phenomena (i.e., ghost hunters).

Some hearing aids (including my own) have a feature which is intended to break the tinnitus by playing low-level sounds. The sound appears to be a type of white or pink noise. Sometimes it helps me to reduce the severity of an episode…sometimes not. And it doesn’t appear to work at all for about half of tinnitus sufferers.

OTOH…if your friend is hearing voices that are speaking to her in an intelligent and understandable manner, forget everything I said and have him/her seek professional help. Money should not even be considered an issue.

When it comes to tinnitus, why can’t they make ear drops that deaden the inner ear, for the purpose of sleep?

If these are auditory hallucinations like those produced by schizophrenia or other mental illnesses, the voices are as far as I know produced entirely by the brain, and have nothing to do with the ears. Although the person believes they are actually hearing voices, it’s not due to auditory stimulation. Since there’s no actual “noise,” you can’t block it.

If this person hasn’t done so already, they need to see a mental health professional. Modern treatments can help suppress such symptoms.

Because tinnitus normally doesn’t arise in the ear, it arises in the brain. My audiologist told me that years ago before the condition was fully understood, some patients went to the extent of having their auditory nerves surgically cut, feeling that they would rather be deaf than continuing to hear the constant tinnitus (a feeling that I can somewhat relate to). The result was that they subsequently heard nothing EXCEPT the tinnitus.

Also, even if the noise DID arise from the inner ear (which it mostly doesn’t), the inner ear isn’t directly connected to the outer ear, and any ‘drops’ wouldn’t reach it.

Wow, Alanis Morissette really is God!

When you are just hearing voices in your head, that is annoying to you. When you start listening to and obeying them, that’s when you may get murdery. I’ll say again, mental health professional, sooner than later.

Strangely, the tinnitus doesn’t bother me when I need to sleep. It may be a dull roar, similar to a train passing, or a constant wooshing sound, but I am still able to sleep. Other people with tinnitus may have more trouble with this.

I have mild to moderate Meniere’s disease and an episode of vertigo WILL keep me from sleeping. I need to load up with meclizine and find the “right” head position to drift off.

I don’t disagree with the second sentence, but I think the first one may not necessarily be true. If the brain is perceiving the sounds truly as an auditory phenomenon (although not real), then other auditory stimuli might possibly interfere with it.

Reason for saying this: If you play two slightly different frequencies out of the same speaker, you will hear phase modulation. If you play the same two frequencies through left and right channels in headphones, you will also still hear phase modulation - the brain is actually mixing sounds as if they were physical waveforms.

It’s clear that the number one measure here has to be to seek counsel with a trained medical health professional.

However, to address the OP’s question, there is at least some circumstantial evidence that those suffering from auditory hallucinations subvocalize the voices they’re hearing. Subvocalization includes minute movements of the larynx that don’t produce any sounds, but that nevertheless aid the brain in ‘inner speech’. Interrupting these movements, for instance by opening one’s mouth or humming, may thus aid in muting the hallucinations, at least according to this study. However, these findings haven’t been well replicated, with for instance this study only finding an effect for humming.