Adaptation of distortion product otoacoustic emission in humans

D. O. Kim, P. A. Dorn, S. T. Neely, M. P. Gorga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Previous studies of animals observed a phenomenon of adaptation of distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) and found that the phenomenon was mediated to a large extent by the medial olivocochlear (MOC) reflex. The present study investigated DPOAE adaptation in humans. The following stimuli were used: f2/f1 = 1.2; f2 = 2, 4, or 5.65 kHz; L2 = 50-65 dB SPL re 20 μPa rms, L1 - L2 = 0-15 dB, where L1 and L2 represent levels of the f1 and F2 tones, respectively; duration of two-tone burst = 5.5 s; interburst gap = 20 or 30 s; number of repetitions = 40 or 64. We analyzed the 2f1 - f2 DPOAE as a function of time using a method of heterodyne envelope detection. The subjects were 20 humans aged from 15 to 54 years (median = 21 years) with normal hearing. We observed that (1) humans exhibited DPOAE adaptation phenomenon; (2) the time course of DPOAE level was characterized by a 2-exponential function; (3) distributions of the fast and slow time constants were well separated with their median values being 69 ms and 1.51 s, respectively; (4) distributions of the magnitudes of the fast and slow adaptation components were largely overlapped with their median values being 0.65 and 0.40 dB, respectively; and (5) the combined magnitude of the adaptation ranged from 0.4 to 3.0 dB with a median of 1.10 dB. To our knowledge, the present study is the first published article to describe adaptation of DPOAE in humans. These results should help advance the basic knowledge of human cochlear mechanics operating under the control of the MOC feedback system and contribute to the development of practical applications such as identifying people at high risk of acoustical injury and a clinical test of the functional status of the MOC system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Auditory
  • Cochlear mechanics
  • Efferent
  • Feedback
  • Hearing
  • Olivocochlear
  • Reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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