Medial olivocochlear reflex effects on amplitude growth functions of long- and short-latency components of click-evoked otoacoustic emissions in humans

Shawn S. Goodman, Sriram Boothalingam, Jeffery T. Lichtenhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Functional outcomes of medial olivocochlear reflex (MOCR) activation, such as improved hearing in background noise and protection from noise damage, involve moderate to high sound levels. Previous noninvasive measurements of MOCR in humans focused primarily on otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) evoked at low sound levels. Interpreting MOCR effects on OAEs at higher levels is complicated by the possibility of the middle-ear muscle reflex and by components of OAEs arising from different locations along the length of the cochlear spiral. We overcame these issues by presenting click stimuli at a very slow rate and by time-frequency windowing the resulting click-evoked (CE)OAEs into short-latency (SL) and long-latency (LL) components. We characterized the effects of MOCR on CEOAE components using multiple measures to more comprehensively assess these effects throughout much of the dynamic range of hearing. These measures included CEOAE amplitude attenuation, equivalent input attenuation, phase, and slope of growth functions. Results show that MOCR effects are smaller on SL components than LL components, consistent with SL components being generated slightly basal of the characteristic frequency region. Amplitude attenuation measures showed the largest effects at the lowest stimulus levels, but slope change and equivalent input attenuation measures did not decrease at higher stimulus levels. These latter measures are less commonly reported and may provide insight into the variability in listening performance and noise susceptibility seen across individuals.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The auditory efferent system, operating at moderate to high sound levels, may improve hearing in background noise and provide protection from noise damage. We used otoacoustic emissions to measure these efferent effects across a wide range of sound levels and identified level-dependent and independent effects. Previous reports have focused on level-dependent measures. The level-independent effects identified here may provide new insights into the functional relevance of auditory efferent activity in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1938-1953
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • auditory
  • efferent
  • medial olivocochlear
  • otoacoustic emissions


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