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The explanation offered by Colette McKay <colette@UNIMELB.EDU.AU>
(that is, the theory behind the "disconnection" syndrome described as
Charles-Bonnet, in which, if the sensory input is disrupted, the
auditory processing "discovers" it's own
patterns) seems to me a very plausible description.
Disruption may already occur as a consequence of medication, alcohol
(!) or drugs(!!).
I would like to add that in my view auditory hallucinations (of
tinnitus, for that matter) also may arise because the auditory system
tries to "compensate" for the lack of input (in case of hearing loss),
which is a special case of disruption.
Perhaps I might illustrate this compensation idea with one example of
an 85-year old woman who came to our tinnitus clinic because she was
terribly irritated by surrounding music and voices. For a long time
she thought these sounds came from her neighbor. At one evening she
made a remark to her daughter about her annoying neighbor and that he
was playing the radio at all times, and especially at night sounds
were very loud. When her daughter said she couldn't hear anything, she
realized that the sounds were from inside her head. From the right she
heard all kinds of familiar tunes, like the ones described by Diana
Deutsch <ddeutsch@UCSD.EDU>; from the left she heard a mumbling of an
Italian tenor. She had a hearing loss of about 50 dB(HL) in both ears.
Noise (tinnitus) maskers could give only a slight relief, but hearing
aids (notably her own hearing aids which she never wore) completely
made the music and voices disappear...