Cochlear compression estimates from measurements of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions

Stephen T. Neely, Michael P. Gorga, Patricia A. Dorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Evidence of the compressive growth of basilar-membrane displacement can be seen in distortion-product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) levels measured as a function of stimulus level. When the levels of the two stimulus tones (f 1 and f2) are related by the formula L1 = 39 dB +0.4 · L2 [Kummer et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 103, 3431-3444 (1998)] the shape of the function relating DPOAE level to L 2 is similar (up to an L2 of 70 dB SPL) to the classic Fletcher and Munson [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 9, 1-10 (1933)] loudness function when plotted on a logarithmic scale. Explicit estimates of compression have been derived based on recent DPOAE measurements from the laboratory. If DPOAE growth rate is defined as the slope of the DPOAE I/O function (in dB/dB), then a cogent definition of compression is the reciprocal of the growth rate. In humans with normal hearing, compression varies from about 1 at threshold to about 4 at 70 dB SPL. With hearing loss, compression is still about 1 at threshold, but grows more slowly above threshold. Median DPOAE I/O data from ears with normal hearing, mild loss, and moderate loss are each well fit by log functions. When the I/O function is logarithmic, then the corresponding compression is a linear function of stimulus level. Evidence of cochlear compression also exists in DPOAE suppression tuning curves, which indicate the level of a third stimulus tone (f3) that reduces DPOAE level by 3 dB. All three stimulus tones generate compressive growth within the cochlea; however, only the relative compression (RC) of the primary and suppressor responses is observable in DPOAE suppression data. An RC value of 1 indicates that the cochlear responses to the primary and suppressor components grow at the same rate. In normal ears, RC rises to 4, when f3 is an octave below f2. The similarities between DPOAE and loudness compression estimates suggest the possibility of predicting loudness growth from DPOAEs; however, intersubject variability makes such predictions difficult at this time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1499-1507
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Cochlear compression estimates from measurements of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this