Spontaneous and impulsively evoked otoacoustic emission: indicators of cochlear pathology?

M. A. Ruggero*, N. C. Rich, R. Freyman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The first author's right ear produces a spontaneous otoacoustic emission (SOAE) at 7529 Hz and 16 dB SPL. An external continuous tone is able to suppress the SOAE. The 3 dB iso-suppression curve is broadly tuned and displaced, relative to the SOAE, toward higher frequencies. An audiogram notch exists at frequencies just below that of the SOAE. We explain the occurrence of both spontaneous and impulsively evoked OAEs in terms of disruption of active feedback mechanisms of the OHCs upon basilar membrane vibration. According to this hypothesis, each segment of the organ of Corti feeds back positively upon its segment of basilar membrane and negatively upon adjacent segments. If a patch of OHC loss exists, adjacent segments of the basilar membrane are released from the negative feedback and respond to an impulsive stimulus with exaggerated oscillations at their resonance frequencies, thus producing OAEs. At particularly sharp transitions between normal and abnormal regions of the organ of Corti SOAEs may be generated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-300
Number of pages18
JournalHearing research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1983


  • Kemp's echo
  • cochlear pathology
  • hair cell loss
  • objective tinnitus
  • otoacoustic emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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