Hearing thresholds have been shown to exhibit periodic minima and maxima, a pattern known as threshold microstructure. Microstructure has previously been linked to spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs) and normal cochlear function. However, SOAEs at high frequencies (>4 kHz) have been associated with hearing loss or cochlear pathology in some reports. Microstructure would not be expected near these high-frequency SOAEs. Psychophysical tuning curves (PTCs), the expression of frequency selectivity, may also be altered by SOAEs. Prior comparisons of tuning between ears with and without SOAEs demonstrated sharper tuning in ears with emissions. Here, threshold microstructure and PTCs were compared at SOAE frequencies ranging between 1.2 and 13.9 kHz using subjects without SOAEs as controls. Results indicate: (1) Threshold microstructure is observable in the vicinity of SOAEs of all frequencies; (2) PTCs are influenced by SOAEs, resulting in shifted tuning curve tips, multiple tips, or inversion. High frequency SOAEs show a greater effect on PTC morphology. The influence of most SOAEs at high frequencies on threshold microstructure and PTCs is consistent with those at lower frequencies, suggesting that high-frequency SOAEs reflect the same cochlear processes that lead to SOAEs at lower frequencies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics