Effect of Contralateral Medial Olivocochlear Feedback on Perceptual Estimates of Cochlear Gain and Compression

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Fletcher, Mark D. ; Krumbholz, Katrin ; de Boer, Jessica (2016)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (issn: 1525-3961, vol: 17, pp: 559-575)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.13039/501100000265, doi: 10.1007/s10162-016-0574-8, pmc: PMC5112214
  • Subject: temporal masking curve (TMC) | click-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CEOAEs) | Research Article | cochlear amplification | contralateral acoustic stimulation | medial olivocochlear reflex (MOCR) | Sensory Systems | Otorhinolaryngology
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The active cochlear mechanism amplifies responses to low-intensity sounds, compresses the range of input sound intensities to a smaller output range, and increases cochlear frequency selectivity. The gain of the active mechanism can be modulated by the medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferent system, creating the possibility of top-down control at the earliest level of auditory processing. In humans, MOC function has mostly been measured by the suppression of optoacoustic emissions (OAEs), typically as a result of MOC activation by a contralateral elicitor sound. The exact relationship between OAE suppression and cochlear gain reduction, however, remains unclear. Here, we measured the effect of a contralateral MOC elicitor on perceptual estimates of cochlear gain and compression, obtained using the established temporal masking curve (TMC) method. The measurements were taken at a signal frequency of 2 kHz and compared with measurements of click-evoked OAE suppression. The elicitor was a broadband noise, set to a sound pressure level of 54 dB to avoid triggering the middle ear muscle reflex. Despite its low level, the elicitor had a significant effect on the TMCs, consistent with a reduction in cochlear gain. The amount of gain reduction was estimated as 4.4 dB on average, corresponding to around 18 % of the without-elicitor gain. As a result, the compression exponent increased from 0.18 to 0.27.
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