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The emergence of tinnitus after acoustic overstimulation and damage to the inner ear is an enormous psychological burden for patients and often leads to economic losses through early retirement from working life. The exact causes of the resulting phantom noise are largely unknown, which is due to the high number of complex relationships in the inner ear and in the various participating centers in the brain. In the past, basic research on tinnitus was often time consuming and complicated because of the available methods to detect tinnitus in laboratory animals. However, a new method now allows the effective and detailed investigation of tinnitus in laboratory animals. Animals with tinnitus can now be identified by a reflex using amodification of the acoustic startle response. Based on earlier successful studies on the development of tinnitus in the Mongolian gerbil (Nowotny et al., 2011), we try to obtained more insights into the origin of tinnitus after repeated acoustic overstimulation. Preliminary results suggest that a so called hidden hearing loss in the inner ear, which can be identified with a detailed analysis of brain potentials, is potentially related to the emergence of tinnitus. Furthermore, our results indicate that the hidden hearing loss could be a summative process. Hence, repeated acoustic overstimulation could increase the risk of developing tinnitus. We will test our hypotheses on gerbils.