Auditory efferents involved in speech-in-noise intelligibility

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FOLLOWING studies proposing that medial olivocochlear efferents might be involved in the processing of complex signals in noise, we tested the involvement of efferent feedback in speech-in-noise intelligibility. Two approaches were used: measures of speech-in-noise intelligibility in vestibular neurotomized patients with cut efferents and comparison with normal hearing subjects; and correlations between effectiveness of olivocochlear feedback, assessed by contralateral suppression of otoacoustic emissions and speech-in-noise intelligibility in normal subjects. Contralateral noise improved speech-in-noise intelligibility in normal ears. This improvement, which was almost absent in de-efferented ears of vestibular neurotomized patients, was correlated with the strength of the olivocochlear feedback. Together, these results suggest that olivocochlear efferents play an antimasking role in speech perception in noisy environments.

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