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J Acoust Soc Am. 1993 Oct;94(4):2135-48.

Gender differences in cochlear response time: an explanation for gender amplitude differences in the unmasked auditory brain-stem response.

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Electrophysiology Laboratory, House Ear Institute, Los Angeles, California 90057.


Derived narrow-band auditory brain-stem responses (ABRs) in young normal-hearing subjects revealed a significant gender difference in response time between frequency regions of the cochlea. Females showed shorter delays than males between derived bands. This differential has not been previously reported. As in many early studies, the unmasked amplitude of the wave V complex was significantly larger (30%) in females than males. However, differences in amplitudes of the narrow-band responses were too small to account for the differential in the unmasked response. It is hypothesized that the larger amplitude of the unmasked wave V complex in females occurs because of a faster response time across the cochlea leading to better neural synchrony and, therefore, larger amplitudes. Furthermore, results can be explained by assuming that the stiffness gradient in the cochlea is 13% larger in females than in males. If males and females have the same cochlear tonotopic mapping, the female cochlea should be 13% shorter. This prediction is highly consistent with recent anatomical studies of cochlear length and gender. The results of the present study indicated possibly important cochlear mechanisms that influence the main parameters of ABRs. An understanding of these cochlear mechanisms may improve the diagnostic capabilities of ABRs in patients with peripheral hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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