Otoacoustic Emissions: From Laboratory to Clinic In the space of this column, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive review of the literature on otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Currently, there are over 2000 published papers describing these phenomena, but space permits reference to only a handful of those papers. At the outset, therefore, we would like ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2000
Otoacoustic Emissions: From Laboratory to Clinic
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michael P. Gorga
    Clinical Sensory Physiology and Communication Engineering Laboratories, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE
  • Stephen T. Neely
    Clinical Sensory Physiology and Communication Engineering Laboratories, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   October 01, 2000
Otoacoustic Emissions: From Laboratory to Clinic
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, October 2000, Vol. 4, 2-4. doi:10.1044/hhd4.1.2
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, October 2000, Vol. 4, 2-4. doi:10.1044/hhd4.1.2
In the space of this column, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive review of the literature on otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Currently, there are over 2000 published papers describing these phenomena, but space permits reference to only a handful of those papers. At the outset, therefore, we would like to acknowledge those individuals whose work is not included, but who have made important contributions to our understanding of OAEs. We apologize for the omissions.
In 1978, David Kemp, the modern-day father of OAEs, published a paper in which he described the presence of low-level signals in the ear canal of humans following stimulation with a brief stimulus. These low-level sounds, emitted by the ear, are now known as OAEs. OAEs are a byproduct of fundamental, nonlinear mechanical responses in the cochlea. These nonlinear responses are due to forces exerted on the basilar membrane by the outer hair cells (OHCs) (e.g., Brownell, 1990). OAEs can be measured non-invasively, which makes them applicable to studies of the human cochlea. They provide an opportunity to explore cochlear mechanical responses (and, by extension, OHC response properties). Prior to their discovery, information about the cochlea was indirect, obtained primarily from threshold measurements. Indeed, up until the discovery of OAEs, it was common practice to classify hearing losses as either conductive or sensorineural in origin. OAEs frequently allow us to distinguish between sensory and neural losses.
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