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J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 Jan;113(1):629-37.

Measuring hearing in the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina): comparison of behavioral and auditory brainstem response techniques.

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Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, 2595 Ingraham Drive, San Diego, California 92109, USA.


Auditory brainstem response (ABR) and standard behavioral methods were compared by measuring in-air audiograms for an adult female harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Behavioral audiograms were obtained using two techniques: the method of constant stimuli and the staircase method. Sensitivity was tested from 0.250 to 30 kHz. The seal showed good sensitivity from 6 to 12 kHz [best sensitivity 8.1 dB (re 20 microPa2 x s) RMS at 8 kHz]. The staircase method yielded thresholds that were lower by 10 dB on average than the method of constant stimuli. ABRs were recorded at 2, 4, 8, 16, and 22 kHz and showed a similar best range (8-16 kHz). ABR thresholds averaged 5.7 dB higher than behavioral thresholds at 2, 4, and 8 kHz. ABRs were at least 7 dB lower at 16 kHz, and approximately 3 dB higher at 22 kHz. The better sensitivity of ABRs at higher frequencies could have reflected differences in the seal's behavior during ABR testing and/or bandwidth characteristics of test stimuli. These results agree with comparisons of ABR and behavioral methods performed in other recent studies and indicate that ABR methods represent a good alternative for estimating hearing range and sensitivity in pinnipeds, particularly when time is a critical factor and animals are untrained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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