Past work applying otoacoustic emissions to gauge maturational status of the medial olivocochlear (MOC) reflex in human newborns has produced mixed results. The present study revisits the question while considering the dual nature of the 2f1 - f2 distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) and expanding measures of medial efferent function. Subjects included premature and term-born neonates, 6-month-old infants and young adults. The MOC reflex was elicited with contralateral acoustic stimulation (CAS) while shifts in amplitude and phase of the DPOAE, and its distortion and reflection components, were monitored. Overall, CAS-elicited reductions in DPOAE level did not differ among age groups. For all ages, the MOC reflex was strongest at frequencies below 1.5 kHz, and the reflection component of the DPOAE was most affected, showing maximally reduced amplitude and shallower phase slope when contralateral noise was presented. Results suggest that the MOC reflex likely reaches maturation prior to full-term birth. However, prematurely born neonates show markedly more episodes of CAS-induced DPOAE level enhancement. This may be due to more intrusive component mixing in this age group or disruptions in the formation of the MOC pathway or synapse in the most premature neonates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics