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TEMPORAL DYNAMICS OF PSYCHOACOUSTIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL MEASURES OF COCHLEAR GAIN REDUCTION
Humans are able to hear and detect small changes in sound across a wide dynamic range despite limited dynamic ranges of individual auditory nerve fibers. One mechanism that may adjust the dynamic range is the medial olivocochlear reflex (MOCR), a bilateral sound-activated system which decreases amplification of sound by the outer hair cells in the cochlea. Much of the previous physiological MOCR research has used long broadband noise elicitors. In behavioral measures of gain reduction, a fairly short elicitor has been found to be maximally effective for an on-frequency, tonal elicitor. However, the effect of the duration of broadband noise elicitors on behavioral tasks is unknown. Additionally, MOCR effects measured using otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), have not consistently shown a positive correlation with behavioral gain reduction tasks. This finding seems counterintuitive if both measurements share a common generation mechanism. The current study measured the effects of ipsilateral broadband noise elicitor duration on psychoacoustic gain reduction (Chapter 2) and transient-evoked OAEs (TEOAEs) (Chapter 3) estimated from a forward-masking paradigm. Changes in the TEOAE were measured in terms of magnitude and phase. When phase was accounted for in the TEOAEs, the time constants were approximately equal to the psychoacoustic time constants, and were relatively short (~80 ms). When only changes in TEOAE magnitude were measured, and phase was omitted, the average time constants were longer (~172-ms). Overall, the psychoacoustic and physiological data were consistent with the timecourse of gain reduction by the MOCR. However, when the magnitudes from these data were directly compared in a linear mixed-effects model (Chapter 4), no positive predictive relationship was found, and in some cases there was a significant negative association between the physiological and psychoacoustic measures of gain reduction as a function of elicitor duration. The multitude of factors involved in this relationship are discussed, as are the implications of dynamic range adjustment in everyday listening conditions (noisy backgrounds) in both normal and hearing impaired listeners (Chapter 5).