Identifying the Origin of Effects of Contralateral Noise on Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions in Unanesthetized Mice

Yingyue Xu, Mary Ann Cheatham, Jonathan H. Siegel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Descending neural pathways in the mammalian auditory system are known to modulate the function of the peripheral auditory system. These pathways include the medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferent innervation to outer hair cells (OHCs) and the acoustic reflex pathways mediating middle ear muscle (MEM) contractions. Based on measurements in humans (Marks and Siegel, companion paper), we applied a sensitive method to attempt to differentiate MEM and MOC reflexes using contralateral acoustic stimulation in mice under different levels of anesthesia. Separation of these effects is based on the knowledge that OHC-generated transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) are delayed relative to the stimulus, and that the MOC reflex affects the emission through its innervation of OHC. In contrast, the MEM-mediated changes in middle ear reflectance alter both the stimulus (with a short delay) and the emission. Using this approach, time averages to transient stimuli were evaluated to determine if thresholds for a contralateral effect on the delayed emission, indicating potential MOC activation, could be observed in the absence of a change in the stimulus pressure. This outcome was not observed in the majority of cases. There were also no statistically significant differences between MEM and putative MOC thresholds, and variability was high for both thresholds regardless of anesthesia level. Since the two reflex pathways could not be differentiated on the basis of activation thresholds, it was concluded that the MEM reflex dominates changes in TEOAEs induced by contralateral noise. This result complicates the identification of purely MOC-induced changes on OAEs in mice unless the MEM reflex is inactivated surgically or pharmacologically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-553
Number of pages11
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Contralateral noise
  • Olivocochlear
  • Otoacoustic emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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