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Audiology. 1984;23(1):59-74.

Frequency selectivity and thresholds of brief stimuli suitable for electric response audiometry.


Auditory evoked potentials are nearly all on-effects and the 'effective stimuli' for them are necessarily brief. Their frequency specificity is therefore limited, especially for the brainstem responses, because of the well-known trade-off between duration and frequency specificity. Brainstem responses are of special interest because they are unchanged in the sleep-like sedation that is required for difficult-to-test children. The middle-latency responses do not meet this requirement. Two patterns of tone burst that are appropriate and promising for the slow cortical potentials and for brainstem potentials, respectively, have rise and fall times of 2 periods of the modulated tone and plateaus of 10 (or 7) periods and 1 period, respectively. Their behavioral thresholds are nearly insensitive to difference in repetition rate between 4 and 40 stimuli/s. Their peak equivalent SPL threshold values at 500, 1 000, 2 000 and 4 000 Hz have been determined for 16 otologically normal ears. Using these reference levels, audiograms have been obtained for subjects with impaired hearing. The audiograms for 'flat' hearing losses do not differ significantly from the corresponding conventional pure-tone audiograms. The slopes for steep high-frequency hearing losses are underestimated, however, particularly with the brief (2-1-2) pattern. Nevertheless, the 2-1-2 pattern appears to be close to the best possible compromise.

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