The click-evoked auditory brainstem response (ABR) is widely used in clinical settings, partly due to its predictability and high test-retest consistency. More recently, the speech-evoked ABR has been used to evaluate subcortical processing of complex signals, allowing for the objective assessment of biological processes underlying auditory function and auditory processing deficits not revealed by responses to clicks. Test-retest reliability of some components of speech-evoked ABRs has been shown for adults and children over the course of months. However, a systematic study of the consistency of the speech-evoked brainstem response in school-age children has not been conducted. In the present study, speech-evoked ABRs were collected from 26 typically-developing children (ages 8-13) at two time points separated by one year. ABRs were collected for /da/ presented in quiet and in a 6-talker babble background noise. Test-retest consistency of response timing, spectral encoding, and signal-to-noise ratio was assessed. Response timing and spectral encoding were highly replicable over the course of one year. The consistency of response timing and spectral encoding found for the speech-evoked ABRs of typically-developing children suggests that the speech-evoked ABR may be a unique tool for research and clinical assessment of auditory function, particularly with respect to auditory-based communication skills.
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