The role of the clinically obtained acoustic reflex as a research tool for sub-clinical hearing pathologies

Causon, Andrew and Munro, Kevin and Plack, Christopher and Prendergast, Garreth (2020) The role of the clinically obtained acoustic reflex as a research tool for sub-clinical hearing pathologies. Trends in Hearing, 24. pp. 1-14. ISSN 2331-2165

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The acoustic reflex (AR) shows promise as an objective test for the presence of cochlear synaptopathy in rodents. The AR has also been shown to be reduced in humans with tinnitus compared to those without. The aim of the present study was twofold: (a) to determine if AR strength (quantified as both threshold and growth) varied with lifetime noise exposure, and thus provided an estimate of the degree of synaptopathy and (b) to identify which factors should be considered when using the AR as a quantitative measure rather than just present/absent responses. AR thresholds and growth functions were measured using ipsilateral and contralateral, broadband and tonal elicitors in adults with normal hearing and varying levels of lifetime noise exposure. Only the clinical standard 226 Hz probe tone was used. AR threshold and growth were not related to lifetime noise exposure, suggesting that routine clinical AR measures are not a sensitive measure when investigating the effects of noise exposure in audiometrically normal listeners. Our secondary, exploratory analyses revealed that AR threshold and growth were significantly related to middle-ear compliance. Listeners with higher middle-ear compliance (though still in the clinically normal range) showed lower AR thresholds and steeper AR growth functions. Furthermore, there was a difference in middle-ear compliance between the sexes, with males showing higher middle-ear compliance values than females. Therefore, it may be necessary to factor middle-ear compliance values into any analysis that uses the AR as an estimate of auditory function.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Trends in Hearing
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Deposited On:
20 Oct 2020 11:08
Last Modified:
03 Mar 2024 01:32