Distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) measures of cochlear function, including DPOAE suppression tuning curves and input/output (I/O) functions, are not adultlike in human infants. These findings suggest the cochlear amplifier might be functionally immature in newborns. However, many noncochlear factors influence DPOAEs and must be considered. This study examines whether age differences in DPOAE I/O functions recorded from infant and adult ears reflect maturation of ear-canal/middle-ear function or cochlear mechanics. A model based on linear middle-ear transmission and nonlinear cochlear generation was developed to fit the adult DPOAE I/O data. By varying only those model parameters related to middle-ear transmission (and holding cochlear parameters at adult values), the model successfully fitted I/O data from infants at birth through age 6 months. This suggests that cochlear mechanics are mature at birth. The model predicted an attenuation of stimulus energy through the immature ear canal and middle ear, and evaluated whether immaturities in forward transmission could explain the differences consistently observed between infant and adult DPOAE suppression. Results show that once the immaturity was compensated for by providing infants with a relative increase in primary tone level, DPOAE suppression tuning at f2=6000 Hz was similar in adults and infants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics