Frequency specificity and left-ear advantage of medial olivocochlear efferent modulation: a study based on stimulus frequency otoacoustic emission

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The medial olivocochlear (MOC) bundle is an auditory nucleus that projects efferent nerve fibers to the outer hair cells (OHCs) for synaptic innervation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible existence of frequency and ear specificity in MOC efferent modulation, as well as how MOC activation influences cochlear tuning. Stimulus frequency otoacoustic emissions (SFOAEs) were used to study MOC efferent modulation. Therefore, the current experiment was designed to compare the degree of SFOAE suppression in the both ears of 20 individuals at 1, 2, 4, and 8 kHz. We also compared changes in Q10 values of SFOAE suppression tuning curves at 1, 2, and 4 kHz under contralateral acoustic stimulation (CAS) and no-CAS conditions. We observed a significant reduction in SFOAE magnitude in the CAS condition compared with the no-CAS condition at 1 and 2 kHz in the left ear. A significant difference in CAS suppression was also found between the left and right ears at 1 and 2 kHz, with larger CAS suppression in the left ear. CAS further produced a statistically significant increase in the Q10 value at 1 kHz and a significant reduction in Q10 values at 2 and 4 kHz. These findings suggest a left-ear advantage in terms of CAS-induced MOC efferent SFOAE suppression, with larger MOC efferent modulation for lower frequencies, and cochlear tuning was sharpened by means of MOC activation at lower frequencies and broadened at higher frequencies.

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