Distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) can be used to assess cochlear damage and are often evaluated by generating a DP-gram in which 2f-f DPOAE levels are plotted as a function of the higher-frequency primary at f. DPOAEs are derived from the reverse propagation of distortion-product (DP) wavelets from their intracochlear sites of generation to emerge as measurable acoustic signals in the outer ear canal. However, at least, some of these same wavelets also propagate within the cochlea in the normal forward direction to the DP-frequency (f) place, where they appear as intracochlear distortion products (iDPs). Depending on several factors, especially, the extent to which DP wavelets add or cancel with each other in phase, one might expect iDPs to differ from DPOAEs in their ability to map the frequency pattern of cochlear damage. In the present study, the behavior of 2f-f iDPs was inferred by interacting a probe tone (f) with the iDP of interest to produce a ‘secondary’ DPOAE (i.e., DPOAE), which was then used to infer the level of 2f-f iDPs as a function of the f-test frequency, thus, constituting a newly developed iDP-gram. To determine the feasibility of and potential applications for the iDP-gram procedure, noise-induced cochlear damage was assessed in two ‘test’ rabbits, one of which exhibited a well-defined punctate loss in their DP-gram, while the other exhibited a broader V-shaped loss. To validate the iDP-gram procedure, standard DP-grams were simultaneously collected and compared to their iDP-gram counterparts. Cochlear damage was independently assessed using auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) describing threshold-shift patterns to which both DP-gram types could be compared. Each DP-gram variety, to some extent, was able to detect a punctate loss in one rabbit and a broader V-shaped loss in the other. For the punctate-loss subject, the standard DP-gram showed a more generalized loss across test frequencies, while iDP-grams showed several localized notches superimposed on the generalized-loss pattern. In general, for the V-shaped loss pattern, both DP-gram types performed very well at detecting the large loss, with the lower primary-tone levels being most sensitive. At the narrow primary-tone ratios of f/f=1.05, standard DP-grams were unable to detect either loss pattern, while for the punctate loss, they paradoxically showed enhancement. Notably, the simultaneously collected iDP-grams performed favorably at the narrow-ratio setting, which is consistent with the notion that DPs travelling toward the 2f-f f place are not subject to the cancellation of wavelets typical for narrow primary-ratio conditions that can confound measures of DPs moving towards the ear canal to emerge as DPOAEs.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.