Tinnitus is a subjective phantom sound perceived only by the affected person and a symptom of various auditory and non-auditory conditions. The majority of methods used in clinical and basic research for tinnitus diagnosis are subjective. To better understand tinnitus-associated changes in the auditory system, an objective technique measuring auditory sensitivity—the auditory brainstem responses (ABR)—has been suggested. Therefore, the present review aimed to summarize ABR’s features in a rat model during experimentally induced tinnitus. PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, and Scopus databanks were searched using Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms: auditory brainstem response, tinnitus, rat. The search identified 344 articles, and 36 of them were selected for the full-text analyses. The experimental protocols and results were evaluated, and the gained knowledge was synthesized. A high level of heterogeneity between the studies was found regarding all assessed areas. The most consistent finding of all studies was a reduction in the ABR wave I amplitude following exposure to noise and salicylate. Simultaneously, animals with salicylate-induced but not noise-induced tinnitus had an increased amplitude of wave IV. Furthermore, the present study identified a need to develop a consensus experimental ABR protocol applied in future tinnitus studies using the rat model.
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