Cochlear maturation and otoacoustic emissions in preterm infants: a time-frequency approach

Hear Res. 2005 Jan;199(1-2):71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2004.08.005.


Click-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CEOAEs) from preterm infants were analyzed to characterize developmental changes of cochlear active mechanisms. Due to their strong time-varying properties, CEOAEs were studied with a time-frequency approach--the wavelet transform (WT). By means of the WT, CEOAEs were decomposed into 12 frequency bands, spanning the 0.25-6.25 kHz range. For each band, the root-mean-square (RMS) level and latency were studied as functions of both frequency and age. Because CEOAEs were averaged using the non-linear mode of acquisition, the developmental changes in observed in this study are related to the non-linear component (which is actually the most predominant component of the active cochlear response) of CEOAEs, the linear one being mostly canceled out by non-linear averaging. In our study, there was evidence that properties of CEOAE non-linear components are related to the post-conception age (PCA) in that the levels and latency of CEOAE frequency components changed until the age of about 38 weeks post-conception, whereas after 38 weeks, CEOAE features were very similar to those of term newborns. In particular, the CEOAE levels increased and latency decreased with age. The observed changes in CEOAE properties seem to reveal a development of cochlear active mechanisms, although contributions from outer and middle ear development cannot be excluded. Also, in agreement with previous physiological and behavioral findings, our results revealed that the development of CEOAE properties was not the same for all the frequencies, being greater for frequencies 4 kHz, and resembled the development of the cochlear partition, which proceeds from base to apex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cochlea / growth & development*
  • Cochlea / physiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / physiology*
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology*