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Hear Res. 1993 Jun;68(1):73-88.

Effects of multiple sclerosis brainstem lesions on sound lateralization and brainstem auditory evoked potentials.

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Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs), and tests of interaural time and level discrimination were performed on sixteen subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS). Objective criteria were used to define MR lesions. Of the eleven subjects in whom no pontine lesions were detected and the one subject who had pontine lesions that did not encroach upon the auditory pathways, all had normal BAEPs and interaural level discrimination, although a few had abnormal interaural time discrimination. Of four subjects with lesions involving the pontine auditory pathway, all had both abnormal BAEPs and abnormal interaural time discrimination; one also had abnormal interaural level discrimination. Analysis of the data suggest the following: waves I and II are generated peripheral to the middle of the ventral acoustic stria (VAS); wave III is generated ipsilaterally in the region of the rostral VAS, caudal superior olivary complex (SOC) and trapezoid body (TB); and waves V and L are generated contralaterally, rostral to the SOC-TB. The region of the ipsilateral rostral SOC-TB is implicated as part of the pathway involved in the generation of waves V and L. Interaural time discrimination of both high and low frequency stimuli were affected by all brainstem lesions that encroached on auditory pathways. A unilateral lesion in the region of the LL affected interaural time discrimination for low-frequency stimuli less severely than bilateral lesions of the LL or a unilateral lesion of the VAS. The only interaural level discrimination abnormality occurred for a subject with a unilateral lesion involving the entire rostral VAS. It appears that detailed analysis of lesion locations coupled with electrophysiological and psychophysical data holds promise for testing hypotheses concerning the function of various human auditory brainstem structures.

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