Efferent modulation of stimulus frequency otoacoustic emission fine structure

Wei Zhao, James B. Dewey, Sriram Boothalingam, Sumitrajit Dhar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Otoacoustic emissions, sounds generated in the inner ear, have become a convenient non-invasive tool to examine the efferent modulation of cochlear mechanics. Activation of the medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferents has been shown to alter the magnitude of these emissions. When the effects of efferent activation on the detailed spectral structures of these emissions have been examined, a shift of the spectral patterns toward higher frequencies has been reported for distortion product and spontaneous otoacoustic emissions. Stimulus frequency otoacoustic emissions (SFOAEs) have been proposed as the preferred emission type in the study of efferent modulation due to the simplicity of their production leading to the possibility of clearer interpretation of results. The effects of efferent activation on the complex spectral patterns of SFOAEs have not been examined to the best of our knowledge. We have examined the effects of activating the MOC efferents using broadband noise in normal-hearing humans. The detailed spectral structure of SFOAEs, known as fine structure, was recorded with and without contralateral acoustic stimulation. Results indicate that SFOAEs are reduced in magnitude and their fine structure pushed to higher frequencies by contralateral acoustic stimulation. These changes are similar to those observed in distortion product or spontaneous otoacoustic emissions and behavioral hearing thresholds. Taken together with observations made about magnitude and phase changes in otoacoustic emissions and hearing thresholds upon contralateral acoustic stimulation, all changes in otoacoustic emission and hearing threshold fine structure appear to be driven by a common set of mechanisms. Specifically, frequency shifts in fine structure patterns appear to be linked to changes in SFOAE phase due to contralateral acoustic stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory efferents
  • Fine structure
  • Medial olivocochlear bundle
  • Otoacoustic emissions
  • Stimulus frequency otoacoustic emissions


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