Click-Evoked Auditory Efferent Activity: Rate and Level Effects

Sriram Boothalingam*, Julianne Kurke, Sumitrajit Dhar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There currently are no standardized protocols to evaluate auditory efferent function in humans. Typical tests use broadband noise to activate the efferents, but only test the contralateral efferent pathway, risk activating the middle ear muscle reflex (MEMR), and are laborious for clinical use. In an attempt to develop a clinical test of bilateral auditory efferent function, we have designed a method that uses clicks to evoke efferent activity, obtain click-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CEOAEs), and monitor MEMR. This allows for near-simultaneous estimation of cochlear and efferent function. In the present study, we manipulated click level (60, 70, and 80 dB peak-equivalent sound pressure level [peSPL]) and rate (40, 50, and 62.5 Hz) to identify an optimal rate-level combination that evokes measurable efferent modulation of CEOAEs. Our findings (n = 58) demonstrate that almost all click levels and rates used caused significant inhibition of CEOAEs, with a significant interaction between level and rate effects. Predictably, bilateral activation produced greater inhibition compared to stimulating the efferents only in the ipsilateral or contralateral ear. In examining the click rate-level effects during bilateral activation in greater detail, we observed a 1-dB inhibition of CEOAE level for each 10-dB increase in click level, with rate held constant at 62.5 Hz. Similarly, a 10-Hz increase in rate produced a 0.74-dB reduction in CEOAE level, with click level held constant at 80 dB peSPL. The effect size (Cohen’s d) was small for either monaural condition and medium for bilateral, faster-rate, and higher-level conditions. We were also able to reliably extract CEOAEs from efferent eliciting clicks. We conclude that clicks can indeed be profitably employed to simultaneously evaluate cochlear health using CEOAEs as well as their efferent modulation. Furthermore, using bilateral clicks allows the evaluation of both the crossed and uncrossed elements of the auditory efferent nervous system, while yielding larger, more discernible, inhibition of the CEOAEs relative to either ipsilateral or contralateral condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 30 2018


  • efferents
  • medial olivocochlear reflex
  • middle ear muscle reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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