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Dead regions in the cochlea and enhancement of frequency discrimination: Effects of audiogram slope, unilateral versus bilateral loss, and hearing-aid use

Dead regions in the cochlea and enhancement of frequency discrimination: Effects of audiogram slope, unilateral versus bilateral loss, and hearing-aid use

Hearing Research 222(1-2): 1-15

Following a restricted lesion of the cochlea, which produces a "dead region" (DR), animal experiments have revealed an increase in the cortical representation of frequencies just below the edge frequency (f(e)) of the DR. This may result in improved difference limens for frequency (DLFs) just below f(e). In previous studies to assess this, the value of f(e) was not determined precisely. We measured DLFs using human subjects with DRs for whom the values of f(e) had been determined precisely using psychophysical tuning curves. To prevent use of loudness cues, stimuli for the measurement of DLFs had a mean level falling along an equal-loudness contour and levels were roved over a 12-dB range. DLFs were measured for thirteen subjects with a DR in at least one ear. Almost all subjects with bilateral hearing loss exhibited enhanced DLFs near f(e), consistent with cortical reorganisation. This occurred for subjects whose audiograms had both steep and shallow slopes, regardless of hearing aid use, and for two subjects with low-frequency DRs. One subject with a high-frequency DR in one ear and good hearing in the other ear showed an enhanced DLF in her better ear.

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Accession: 012848562

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PMID: 17071031

DOI: 10.1016/j.heares.2006.06.020

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