A comparison of underwater hearing sensitivity in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) determined by electrophysiological and behavioral methods

J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Sep;120(3):1713-22. doi: 10.1121/1.2229286.


Variable stimulus presentation methods are used in auditory evoked potential (AEP) estimates of cetacean hearing sensitivity, each of which might affect stimulus reception and hearing threshold estimates. This study quantifies differences in underwater hearing thresholds obtained by AEP and behavioral means. For AEP estimates, a transducer embedded in a suction cup (jawphone) was coupled to the dolphin's lower jaw for stimulus presentation. Underwater AEP thresholds were obtained for three dolphins in San Diego Bay and for one dolphin in a quiet pool. Thresholds were estimated from the envelope following response at carrier frequencies ranging from 10 to 150 kHz. One animal, with an atypical audiogram, demonstrated significantly greater hearing loss in the right ear than in the left. Across test conditions, the range and average difference between AEP and behavioral threshold estimates were consistent with published comparisons between underwater behavioral and in-air AEP thresholds. AEP thresholds for one animal obtained in-air and in a quiet pool demonstrated a range of differences of -10 to 9 dB (mean = 3 dB). Results suggest that for the frequencies tested, the presentation of sound stimuli through a jawphone, underwater and in-air, results in acceptable differences to AEP threshold estimates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Audiometry / instrumentation
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Jaw
  • Male
  • Transducers
  • Water


  • Water