Auditory brainstem responses with optimized chirp signals compensating basilar-membrane dispersion

J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Mar;107(3):1530-40. doi: 10.1121/1.428438.


This study examines auditory brainstem responses (ABR) elicited by rising frequency chirps. The time course of frequency change for the chirp theoretically produces simultaneous displacement maxima by compensating for travel-time differences along the cochlear partition. This broadband chirp was derived on the basis of a linear cochlea model [de Boer, "Auditory physics. Physical principles in hearing theory I," Phys. Rep. 62, 87-174 (1980)]. Responses elicited by the broadband chirp show a larger wave-V amplitude than do click-evoked responses for most stimulation levels tested. This result is in contrast to the general hypothesis that the ABR is an electrophysiological event most effectively evoked by the onset or offset of an acoustic stimulus, and unaffected by further stimulation. The use of this rising frequency chirp enables the inclusion of activity from lower frequency regions, whereas with a click, synchrony is decreased in accordance with decreasing traveling velocity in the apical region. The use of a temporally reversed (falling) chirp leads to a further decrease in synchrony as reflected in ABR responses that are smaller than those from a click. These results are compatible with earlier experimental results from recordings of compound action potentials (CAP) [Shore and Nuttall, "High synchrony compound action potentials evoked by rising frequency-swept tonebursts," J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 78, 1286-1295 (1985)] reflecting activity at the level of the auditory nerve. Since the ABR components considered here presumably reflect neural response from the brainstem, the effect of an optimized synchronization at the peripheral level can also be observed at the brainstem level. The rising chirp may therefore be of clinical use in assessing the integrity of the entire peripheral organ and not just its basal end.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Basilar Membrane / physiology*
  • Cochlea / physiology
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological