The effects of external- and middle-ear filtering on auditory threshold and noise-induced hearing loss

J Acoust Soc Am. 1991 Jul;90(1):124-35. doi: 10.1121/1.401306.


A model of external- and middle-ear function is described that uses existing data to quantify the flow of sound power from the environment to the cochlea of humans, cats, and chinchillas. This model estimates the sound power produced at the entrance of the cochlea by an environmental sound stimulus, and can be used to predict the shape of the auditory threshold function and the relative potency of various traumatic acoustic stimuli. The shapes of the predicted and measured threshold functions in the three species are similar in best frequency, bandwidth, and low-frequency slope, and the model accurately predicts the hypersensitivity of the middle-frequency regions of the cochlea to acoustic trauma. The model assumes that the mechanics of the middle-ear system are linear even at high stimulus levels and does not include the effects of either middle-ear or cochlear efferent loops. The effects of these simplifications on the model are discussed as are the implications of the model results for hearing protection and damage risk criteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Chinchilla
  • Ear, External / physiopathology*
  • Ear, Middle / physiopathology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Loudness Perception
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Species Specificity
  • Tympanic Membrane / physiology