Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Raymond M. Hurley, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Jennifer J. Lister, Ph.D., Member

Committee Member

Harvey Abrams, Ph.D., Member


auditory brainstem response, ABR, tone burst, notched noise, sensorineural hearing loss


Objective: The air conduction click is currently the most widespread stimulus used to estimate the pure tone audiogram as part of auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. The click is characterized by its broad spectral content and rapid onset, which may not make it the best choice for frequency specificity. An alternative stimulus is a short duration tone burst stimuli with notched noise masking. When obtaining an ABR using standard unmasked tone bursts, the brief stimulus onset may cause spectral splatter producing response contributions from unwanted regions of the cochlea; thus reducing the frequency specificity of the ABR. Notched noise masking used in conjunction with the tone burst ABR, limits the evoked response to those frequencies within the notch, thereby reducing the likelihood of spectral splatter and increasing frequency specificity. The presence of a sloping sensory hearing impairment creates additional difficulties for achieving frequency specificity because of the likelihood that lower frequency cochlea regions, with less sensory damage, will contribute to the evoked response. It is theorized that notched noise masking will reduce the neural contributions from regions of the cochlear outside those within the notch, resulting in more frequency specific results than those achieved with a standard unmasked tone burst stimulus. The present study was designed to investigate the differences in Wave V latency between the notched noise ABR and the standard unmasked tone burst ABR as a measure of frequency specificity.

Design: Twenty-five participants with normal hearing in at least one ear and 16 participants with bilateral SNHL participated in this investigation. Each participant was given an audiological evaluation, a click ABR screening to determine neural synchrony, a standard tone burst ABR and a notched noise tone burst ABR.

Results: An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) failed to reveal any significant Wave V latency differences between the ABRs obtained with unmasked tone bursts versus ABRs obtained with a notched noise tone burst.

Conclusion: The results of this study do not support the use of notched noise tone bursts for improved ABR frequency specificity. This finding is contrary to previously reported results (Stapells & Picton, 1981), which indicated improved frequency specificity when obtaining a tone burst ABR in notched noise versus a standard unmasked tone burst ABR.