Adaptation of the Acoustic Reflex

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Acoustic reflex adaptation is reviewed in normal and abnormal auditory systems. The measurement variables affecting the acoustic reflex threshold are discussed with reference to the intensity level above reflex threshold at which the adaptation is measured. The effects of the activator frequency and activator intensity level on the time course of normal reflex adaptation are reviewed. The diagnostic application of acoustic reflex adaptation is discussed with reference to the different definitions of abnormality found in the literature. The acoustic reflex patterns, including absence, threshold, and adaptation of the reflex, are reported in patients with different degrees of hearing loss, in order to identify the false-positive rates associated with cochlear hearing losses. Finally, the diagnostic accuracy of acoustic reflexes is discussed in subjects having lesions of the CNVIII, brain stem, CNVII, and neuromuscular systems. In summary, a method is advocated for measuring acoustic reflex adaptation over 10 seconds, which allows analysis at both 5 and 10 seconds. Further research is needed on procedural variables including activator intensity level and ipsilateral recording methods, which may increase the diagnostic accuracy of acoustic reflex adaptation.

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