This study investigates the acoustic reflex threshold (ART) dependency on stimulus phase utilizing low-level reflex audiometry [Neumann et al., Audiol. Neuro-Otol. 1, 359–369 (1996)]. The goal is to obtain optimal broadband stimuli for elicitation of the acoustic reflex and to obtain objective determinations of cochlear hearing loss. Three types of tone complexes with different phase characteristics were investigated: A stimulus that compensates for basilar-membrane dispersion, thus causing a large overall neural synchrony (basilar-membrane tone complex—BMTC), the temporally inversed stimulus (iBMTC), and random-phase tone complexes (rTC). The ARTs were measured in eight normal-hearing and six hearing-impaired subjects. Five different conditions of peak amplitude and stimulus repetition rate were used for each stimulus type. The results of the present study suggest that the ART is influenced by at least two different factors: (a) the degree of synchrony of neural activity across frequency, and (b) the fast-acting compression mechanism in the cochlea that is reduced in the case of a sensorineural hearing loss. The results allow a clear distinction of the two subjects groups based on the different ART for the utilized types and conditions of the stimuli. These differences might be useful for objective recruitment detection in clinical diagnostics. ©2005 Acoustical Society of America.
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