Project name:

A common microstructure in behavioral hearing thresholds and stimulus-frequency otoacoustic emissions

Project description:

Behavioral hearing thresholds and otoacoustic emission (OAE) spectra often exhibit quasiperiodic fluctuations with frequency. For behavioral and OAE responses to single tones—the latter referred to as stimulus-frequency otoacoustic emissions (SFOAEs)—this microstructure has been attributed to intracochlear reflections of SFOAE energy between its region of generation and the middle ear boundary. However, the relationship between behavioral and SFOAE microstructures, as well as their presumed dependence on the properties of the SFOAE-generation mechanism, have yet to be adequately examined. To address this, behavioral thresholds and SFOAEs evoked by near- threshold tones were compared in 12 normal-hearing female subjects. The microstructures observed in thresholds and both SFOAE amplitudes and delays were found to be strikingly similar. SFOAE phase accumulated an integer number of cycles between the frequencies of microstructure maxima, consistent with a dependence of microstructure periodicity on SFOAE propagation delays. Additionally, microstructure depth was correlated with SFOAE magnitude in a manner resembling that predicted by the intracochlear reflection framework, after assuming reasonable values of parameters related to middle ear transmission. Further exploration of this framework may yield more precise estimates of such parameters and provide insight into their frequency dependence.