Changes in spontaneous otoacoustic emissions produced by acoustic stimulation of the contralateral ear

John B. Mott, Susan J. Norton, Stephen T. Neely, W. Bruce Warr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs) were measured in human ear canals before, during and after presentation of tonal stimuli to the contralateral ear. Stimuli were presented in 1 8 octave steps from 2 octaves below to 1 octave above the SOAE frequency at sound levels below the observed contralateral acoustic reflex threshold. For certain conditions there was an abrupt upward frequency shift at stimulus onset. For a fixed level the effect was frequency selective; the maximum frequency shift was obtained with tones approximately 1 2 octave below the SOAE. SOAE amplitude usually decreased but in some cases increased or remained unchanged. When amplitude changes were observed, the maximum shifts were observed for tones at or near the SOAE frequency. Changes in SOAEs were not observed for stimulus levels below 60 dB SPL. The effect is believed to be mediated by medial efferent neurons of the uncrossed olivocochlear bundle which arise in the medial region of the superior olivary complex and terminate on outer hair cells (OHCs). These results support those models which attribute SOAE generation to OHCs, and are indicative of an efferent influence on cochlear mechanics. A simple model is presented that proposes that efferent activity alters the tuning of the emission generator by causing changes in OHC membrane conductance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-242
Number of pages14
JournalHearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1989


  • Cochlear mechanics
  • Efferent activity
  • Hair cells, outer
  • Olivocochlear bundle
  • Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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