Automated Adaptive Wideband Acoustic Reflex Threshold Estimation in Normal-hearing Adults

Kim S. Schairer, Daniel B. Putterman, Douglas H. Keefe, Denis Fitzpatrick, Angela Garinis, Elizabeth Kolberg, M. Patrick Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Acoustic stapedius reflex threshold (ART) tests are included in a standard clinical acoustic immittance test battery as an objective cross-check with behavioral results and to help identify site of lesion. In traditional clinical test batteries, middle-ear admittance of a 226 Hz probe is estimated using ear-canal measurements in the presence of a reflex-activating stimulus. In the wideband (WB) acoustic immittance ART test used in this study, the pure-tone probe is replaced by a WB probe stimulus and changes in absorbed power are estimated using ear-canal measurements in the presence of the activator. The ART is defined as the lowest level at which a criterion change in admittance (clinical) or absorbed power (WB) is observed in the presence of the activator. In the present study, ARTs were obtained in adults with normal hearing using the clinical, manual method and with a new WB automated adaptive threshold detection method. It was hypothesized that the WB test would result in lower ARTs than the clinical test because reflex-related changes in power absorbance could be observed across multiple frequency bands in the WB test compared with a single frequency in the traditional test. Design: Data were collected in a prospective research design. ARTs were obtained in ipsilateral and contralateral conditions using 500, 1000, 2000 Hz, and broadband noise (BBN) activators on a clinical system and on an experimental WB system. The bandwidth of the BBN activator was 125 to 4000 Hz on the clinical system and 200 to 8000 Hz on the wideband system. ARTs were estimated at both tympanometric peak pressure (TPP) and ambient pressure on the WB system. Data were collected in both ears of 39 adults (21 males) of mean age 47.7 years (range 23-72 years). Differences in ARTs among the three threshold estimation methods (clinical, WB at TPP, WB at ambient) were examined using the general linear model repeated measures test in SPSS. Post-hoc pairwise comparisons were completed with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Statistical significance was defined as p < 0.05 for all analyses. Results: ARTs obtained on the WB system at TPP and ambient pressure were significantly lower than obtained on the clinical system. ARTs obtained on the WB system at TPP were significantly higher than at ambient pressure in the 500 and 2000 Hz ipsilateral conditions. Conclusions: WB automated adaptive ARTs in normal-hearing adults were lower than for clinical methods when measured at TPP and ambient pressure. Lower presentation levels required to estimate ART in the WB test may be more tolerable to patients. Patients with ARTs that are not present at the maximum level of a traditional reflex test may have present ARTs with a WB ART test, which may reduce the need to refer for additional testing for possible retrocochlear involvement. Automation of the test may allow clinicians more time to attend to the other requisite tasks of a hearing evaluation and make the system useful for telehealth applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-378
Number of pages9
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 26 2022


  • Acoustic reflex thresholds
  • Middle-ear muscle reflex
  • wideband immittance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing


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