The origin of the human auditory brain-stem response wave II

William Hal Martin, Hillel Pratt, John W. Schwegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Auditory brain-stem responses (ABRs) were recorded from human subjects undergoing neurosurgical procedures which exposed the auditory nerve. Scalp recordings indicated that the latency of the negativity between waves (In) and II (In) and the latency of positive peak II (IIp) were shorter when the nerve was suspended in air than when the nerve was submerged in cerebrospinal fluid or saline, while earlier and later waves remained unaffected. These results could not be attributed to changes in stimulus or recording parameters or conduction velocity. Computational and somatosensory experimental evidence of stationary potentials generated by physical properties of the volume conductor, including changes in conductivity or geometry, are presented to develop a model of wave IIp generation. The results of this study suggest that wave IIp (and probably In) are manifestations of current flux asymmetries across conductivity boundaries created by the temporal bone-cerebrospinal fluid intradural space-brain-stem interfaces. The current flux asymmetries are generated as the propagating auditory nerve action potential crosses the conductivity boundaries. These results also indicate that the physical characteristics of the volume conductor and neural pathways must be considered when interpreting surface recorded evoked potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology/ Evoked Potentials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • (Human)
  • Auditory brain-stem response
  • Evoked potentials
  • Generators
  • Intraoperative monitoring
  • Stationary potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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