Differentiating Middle Ear and Medial Olivocochlear Effects on Transient-Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions

Kendra L. Marks, Jonathan H. Siegel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The response of the inner ear is modulated by the middle ear muscle (MEM) and olivocochlear (OC) efferent systems. Both systems can be activated reflexively by acoustic stimuli delivered to one or both ears. The acoustic middle ear muscle reflex (MEMR) controls the transmission of acoustic signals through the middle ear, while reflex activation of the medial component of the olivocochlear system (the MOCR) modulates cochlear mechanics. The relative prominence of the two efferent systems varies widely between species. Measuring the effect of either of these systems can be confounded by simultaneously activating the other. We describe a simple, sensitive online method that can identify the effects both systems have on otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) evoked by transient stimuli such as clicks or tone pips (TEOAEs). The method detects directly in the time domain the changes in the stimulus and/or emission pressures caused by contralateral noise. Measurements in human participants are consistent with other reports that the threshold for MOCR activation is consistently lower than for MEMR. The method appears to control for drift and subject-generated noise well enough to avoid the need for post hoc processing, making it promising for application in animal experiments (even if awake) and in the hearing clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-542
Number of pages14
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • acoustic reflex
  • contralateral noise
  • olivocochlear
  • otoacoustic emissions
  • transient-evoked

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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