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The influence of cochlear spectral processing on the timing and amplitude of the speech-evoked auditory brain stem response

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  • Helen Nuttall
  • David. R. Moore
  • Johanna G. Barry
  • Katrin Krumbholz
  • Jessica de Boer
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Neurophysiology
Issue number10
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)3683-3691
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The speech-evoked auditory brain stem response (speech ABR) is widely considered to provide an index of the quality of neural temporal encoding in the central auditory pathway. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the extent to which the speech ABR is shaped by spectral processing in the cochlea. High-pass noise masking was used to record speech ABRs from delimited octave-wide frequency bands between 0.5 and 8 kHz in normal-hearing young adults. The latency of the frequency-delimited responses decreased from the lowest to the highest frequency band by up to 3.6 ms. The observed frequency-latency function was compatible with model predictions based on wave V of the click ABR. The frequency-delimited speech ABR amplitude was largest in the 2- to 4-kHz frequency band and decreased toward both higher and lower frequency bands despite the predominance of low-frequency energy in the speech stimulus. We argue that the frequency dependence of speech ABR latency and amplitude results from the decrease in cochlear filter width with decreasing frequency. The results suggest that the amplitude and latency of the speech ABR may reflect interindividual differences in cochlear, as well as central, processing. The high-pass noise-masking technique provides a useful tool for differentiating between peripheral and central effects on the speech ABR. It can be used for further elucidating the neural basis of the perceptual speech deficits that have been associated with individual differences in speech ABR characteristics.