Functional modeling of the human auditory brainstem response to broadband stimulation

Sarah Verhulst, Hari M. Bharadwaj, Golbarg Mehraei, Christopher A. Shera, Barbara G. Shinn-Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Population responses such as the auditory brainstem response (ABR) are commonly used for hearing screening, but the relationship between single-unit physiology and scalp-recorded population responses are not well understood. Computational models that integrate physiologically realistic models of single-unit auditory-nerve (AN), cochlear nucleus (CN) and inferior colliculus (IC) cells with models of broadband peripheral excitation can be used to simulate ABRs and thereby link detailed knowledge of animal physiology to human applications. Existing functional ABR models fail to capture the empirically observed 1.2–2 ms ABR wave-V latency-vs-intensity decrease that is thought to arise from level-dependent changes in cochlear excitation and firing synchrony across different tonotopic sections. This paper proposes an approach where level-dependent cochlear excitation patterns, which reflect human cochlear filter tuning parameters, drive AN fibers to yield realistic level-dependent properties of the ABR wave-V. The number of free model parameters is minimal, producing a model in which various sources of hearing-impairment can easily be simulated on an individualized and frequency-dependent basis. The model fits latency-vs-intensity functions observed in human ABRs and otoacoustic emissions while maintaining rate-level and threshold characteristics of single-unit AN fibers. The simulations help to reveal which tonotopic regions dominate ABR waveform peaks at different stimulus intensities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1637–1659
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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