Acoustic reflexes: Should we be paying more attention?

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The clinical audiology test battery often involves playing physically simple sounds with questionable ecological value to the listener. In this technical report, we revisit how valid this approach is using an automated, involuntary auditory response; the acoustic reflex threshold (ART).

The ART was estimated four times in each individual in a quasi-random ordering of task conditions. The baseline condition (referred to as Neutral) measured the ART following a standard clinical practice. Three experimental conditions were then used in which a secondary task was performed whilst the reflex was measured: auditory attention, auditory distraction and visual distraction tasks.

Study sample
Thirty-eight participants (27 males) with a mean age of 23 years were tested. All participants were audiometrically healthy.

The ART was elevated when a visual task was performed at the same time as the measurements were taken. Performing an auditory task did not affect the ART.

These data indicate that simple audiometric measures widely used in the clinic, can be affected by central, non-auditory processes even in healthy, normal-hearing volunteers. The role of cognition and attention on auditory responses will become ever more important in the coming years.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Early online date22 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2023


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