The recording of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) is used worldwide for hearing screening purposes. In this process, a precise estimation of the most relevant components is essential for an accurate interpretation of these signals. This evaluation is usually carried out subjectively by an audiologist. However, the use of automatic methods for this purpose is being encouraged nowadays in order to reduce human evaluation biases and ensure uniformity among test conditions, patients, and screening personnel. This article describes a new method that performs automatic quality assessment and identification of the peaks, the fitted parametric peaks (FPP). This method is based on the use of synthesized peaks that are adjusted to the ABR response. The FPP is validated, on one hand, by an analysis of amplitudes and latencies measured manually by an audiologist and automatically by the FPP method in ABR signals recorded at different stimulation rates; and on the other hand, contrasting the performance of the FPP method with the automatic evaluation techniques based on the correlation coefficient, FSP, and cross correlation with a predefined template waveform by comparing the automatic evaluations of the quality of these methods with subjective evaluations provided by five experienced evaluators on a set of ABR signals of different quality. The results of this study suggest (a) that the FPP method can be used to provide an accurate parameterization of the peaks in terms of amplitude, latency, and width, and (b) that the FPP remains as the method that best approaches the averaged subjective quality evaluation, as well as provides the best results in terms of sensitivity and specificity in ABR signals validation. The significance of these findings and the clinical value of the FPP method are highlighted on this paper.
- Fitted parametric peaks (FPP)
- Mexican hat wavelet
- Response detection
- Subjective visual evaluation
- Template matching