Clinical test performance of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions using new stimulus conditions

Tiffany A. Johnson, Stephen T. Neely, Judy G. Kopun, Darcia M. Dierking, Hongyang Tan, Michael P. Gorga

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Objectives: To determine whether new stimulus parameters, which have been shown to produce large distortion-product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) levels in a group of normal-hearing listeners (Neely et al. 2005; Johnson et al. 2006), result in more accurate identification of auditory status and more accurate predictions of behavioral threshold than traditional stimulus conditions. Design: DPOAE input/output (I/O) functions for eight f2 frequencies ranging from 0.7 to 8 kHz were recorded from 96 ears with normal hearing and 226 ears with sensorineural hearing losses ranging from mild to profound. The primary-level differences and primary-frequency ratios were set according to the stimulus relations developed by Johnson et al. (2006). The accuracy of the dichotomous decision task (area under the relative operating characteristic curve [AROC]) for these new stimulus conditions was evaluated as a function of L2 and was compared with previous reports in the literature where traditional stimuli were used (Stover et al. 1996). Here, traditional stimuli are defined as L1 = L2 + 10 and f2/f1 = 1.22 for all L2 and f2 values. In addition to I/O functions, DPgrams with L2 = 55-dB sound pressure level (SPL) and f2 ranging from 0.7 to 8 kHz were recorded for each subject using the traditional stimuli. This provided a direct within-subject comparison of AROC for moderate-level stimuli when the new and traditional stimuli were used. Finally, the accuracy with which DPOAE thresholds predicted behavioral thresholds was evaluated in relation to previous reports in the literature for two definitions of DPOAE threshold, one where the entire I/O function was used to make the prediction and a second where the lowest L2 producing a signal to noise ratio ≥3 dB was used. Results: There was no evidence that the new stimuli improved the accuracy with which auditory status was identified from DPOAE responses. With both the new and traditional stimuli, moderate stimulus levels (L2 = 40-to 55-dB SPL) resulted in the most accurate identification of auditory status. When L2 = 55-dB SPL, the new stimuli produced AROC values that were equivalent to those observed with traditional stimuli. The new stimuli resulted in more accurate prediction of behavioral threshold for several f2 values when using the entire I/O function, although the effect was small. Furthermore, using the entire I/O function to predict behavioral threshold Results in more accurate predictions of behavioral threshold than using the signal to noise ratio definition, although this approach can be applied to a smaller percentage of ears. Conclusions: The new stimuli that had been shown previously to produce large DPOAE levels in normal-hearing listeners (Neely et al. 2005; Johnson et al. 2006) do not result in more accurate identification of auditory status and have only a small positive effect on the prediction of behavioral threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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