Activation of the medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferents attenuates cochlear gain and reduces the amplitudes of mechanical, electrical, and neural cochlear outputs. The functional roles of the MOC efferents are not fully understood, especially in humans, despite postulations that they are involved in protection against acoustic trauma, facilitation of transient-sound perception, etc. Delineating the frequency tuning properties of the MOC efferents would provide critical evidence to support or refute these postulated functional roles. By utilizing spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs), a cochlear measure sensitive to MOC modulation, we systematically demonstrate in humans that the contralateral MOC reflex is tuned to a fixed frequency band between 500 and 1,000 Hz independent of SOAE frequency. Our results question the role of the MOC reflex in protection against acoustic trauma or facilitation of transient-sound perception.
- Cochlear mechanics
- Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions