The auditory brainstem response (ABR), consisting of five to six vertex-positive peaks with separation of about 0.8ms, is very sensitive to factors that affect conduction velocity and hence ABR wave latencies in the brainstem auditory pathways. In addition, disorders causing dissynchronization of neural activity result in an amplitude decrease or disappearance of ABR peaks. The opposite effects occur in the maturation process, which takes about 2 years postterm; here conduction velocity increases quickly to its adult value, but synaptic delays being sensitive to synchronous release of transmitter substance take considerably longer. In neurological disorders, those that cause dissynchrony, such as auditory neuropathy and vestibular schwannoma, Gaucher disease, and Krabbe disease, the (longer latency) ABR peaks are reduced or absent. Effects on neural conduction, resulting in increased ABR interwave latencies, are found in vestibular schwannomas, Bell's palsy, Duane retraction syndrome, Marcus Gunn ptosis, and various encephalomyopathies. These measures allow an assessment of the parts of the brainstem that are involved.
Keywords: Auditory neuropathy; Bell's palsy; Duane retraction syndrome; Encephalomyopathy; Maturation; Migraine; Multiple sclerosis; Ménière's disease; Vestibular schwannoma.
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