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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2011 Feb;12(1):13-28. doi: 10.1007/s10162-010-0241-4.

The effect of static ear canal pressure on human spontaneous otoacoustic emissions: spectral width as a measure of the intra-cochlear oscillation amplitude.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, P.O. Box 30001, 9700, RB, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions can be detected as peaks in the Fourier spectrum of a microphone signal recorded from the ear canal. The height, center frequency, and spectral width of SOAE peaks changed when a static pressure was applied to the ear canal. Most commonly, with either increasing or decreasing static pressure, the frequency increased, the amplitude decreased, and the width increased. These changes are believed to result from changes in the middle ear properties. Specifically, reduced middle ear transmission is assumed to attenuate the amplitude of emissions. We reconsidered this explanation by investigating the relation between peak height and width. We showed that the spectral width of SOAE peaks is approximately proportional to . This is consistent with a (Rayleigh) oscillator model in which broadening of the SOAE peak is caused by broadband intra-cochlear noise, which is assumed to be independent of static ear canal pressure. The relation between emission peak height and width implicates that the intra-cochlear oscillation amplitude attentuates relative to the intra-cochlear noise level when a static ear canal pressure is applied. Apparently, ear canal static pressure directly affects the active mechanics in the inner ear.

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