Anatomical and Physiological Origins of Auditory Brain Stem Responses (ABR)

  • Arnold Starr
  • L. Joseph Achor
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 9)


The development of far field recording techniques to measure the activity of the auditory pathway in its course from the cochlea to the cortex has had important clinical applications. In man there are up to seven vertex positive waves that occur in the first ten msec after a click signal (Fig. 1). The largest of these components, designated variously as the IV–V complex, 4a and 4b, or N4 and N5, is usually 0.5 µV in amplitude and occurs at a latency of 5.6–6.0 msec for a 65 dB (H.L. re normal) click. Since the components of the auditory brain stem responses (ABR) change in latency in an orderly manner with signal intensity (Fig. 1) the measure can provide objective definition of hearing threshold in difficult-to-test subjects such as newborn infants or mentally impaired patients (Davis and Kirsch, 1977; Hecox and Galambos, 1974; Mokotoff et al., 1977; Shulman-Galambos and Galambos, 1975; Sohmer and Feinmesser, 1973; Starr et al., 1977; Yamada et al., 1975). The ABR evoked by clicks primarily reflects high frequency hearing capacities since it depends on the activity of the basilar or high frequency end of the cochlea. However, there are several methods under evaluation that will enable the ABR to serve as a reliable measure of hearing threshold across a wide range of signal frequencies; these include the use of filtered clicks (Davis, 1976) and narrow band masking noise (Don and Eggermont, 1978).


Brain Stem Inferior Colliculus Cochlear Nucleus Auditory Pathway Electrolytic Lesion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achor, J. Field analysis of auditory brain stem responses. Neuro- sci., Abstract, 19762 12.Google Scholar
  2. Buchwald, J.S. and Huang, C.M. Far field acoustic responses: Origins in the cat. Science 1975,189, 382–384.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chiappa, K.H., Norwood, A.E. and Young, R.R. Brain stem auditory evoked responses in clinical neurology: Utility and clinico- pathological correlations. Arch. Neurol., in press.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, H. Principles of electric response audiometry. Ann. Otol. Rhinol,and Laryng., Suppl. 28, 1976, 5–96.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, H. and Hirsh, S.K. Brain stem electric response audiometry (BSERA). Acta. Otolaryngol., 1977,83 136–139.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Don, M. and Eggermont, J.J. The analysis of the click evoked brain stem potentials in man using high pass noise masking. J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 197863 1084–1092.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hecox, K. and Galambos, R. Brain stem auditory evoked responses in human infants and adults. Arch. Otolaryng., 1974,99, 30–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huang, C.M. and Buchwald, J.S. Interpretation of the vertex short latency acoustic response: A study of single neurons in the brain stem. Brain Res., 1977137 291–303.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jewett, D.L. Averaged volume conducted potentials to auditorystimuli in the cat. Electroenceph Clin. Neurophysiol., 197028 609–618.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lev, A. and Sohmer, H. Sources of averaged neural responses recorded in animal and human subjects during cochlear audiometry (electrocochleography). Arch. Klin. Exp. Ohr. Nas. Kehlkof., 1970201 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mokotoff, B., Schulman-Galambos, C. and Galambos, R. Brain stemauditory evoked responses in children. Arch. Otolaryng., 1977,103, 38–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Robinson, K. and Rudge, P. Abnormalities of the auditory evokedGoogle Scholar
  13. potentials in patients with multiple sclerosis. Brain, 1977,100, 19–40.Google Scholar
  14. Rowe, M.J. Normal variability of the brain stem auditory evokedGoogle Scholar
  15. response in young and old adult subjects. Electroenceph. Clin. Neurophysiol., 197844 459–470.Google Scholar
  16. Schulman-Galambos, C. and Galambos, R. Brain stem auditory evoked potentials in premature infants. J. Speech Hear. Res., 1975,18, 456–465.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Sohmer, H. and Feinmesser, M. Routine use of electrocochleography (cochlear audiometry) on human subjects. Audiol., 1973,12, 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Squires, K., Chu, N.-S. and Starr, A. Acute effects of alcohol on auditory brain stem potentials in humans. Science, 1978,201, 174–176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Starr, A. Auditory brain stem responses in brain death. Brain,197699 543–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Starr, A. Clinical relevance of auditory brain stem evoked potentials in brain stem disorders in man. In J.E. Desmedt (Ed.),Auditory Evoked Potentials in Man,Psychopharmacology Correlates of EPS, Prog. Clin. Neurophysiol., Vol. 2, Basel: Karger,1977Google Scholar
  21. Starr, A. Sensory evoked potentials in clinical disorders of the nervous system. Ann. Rev. Neurosci., 19781 103–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Starr, A. and Achor, J. Auditory brain stem responses in neurological disease. Arch. Neurol., 197532 761–768.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Starr, A., Amlie, R.N., Martin, W.H. and Sanders, S. Development of auditory function in newborn infants revealed by auditory brain stem potentials. Pediatr., 197760 831–839.Google Scholar
  24. Starr, A. and Hamilton, A. Correlation between confirmed sites ofneurological lesions of far field auditory brain stem responses. Electroenceph. Clin. Neurophysiol., 197641 595–608.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stockard, J.J. and Rossiter, V.S. Clinical and pathologic correlates of brain stem auditory response abnormalities. Neurol. (Min- neap.), 197727 316–325.Google Scholar
  26. Stockard, J.J., Sharbrough, F.W. and Tinker, J.A. Effects of hypothermia on the human brain stem auditory response. Ann. Neurol.,19783, 368–370.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Terkildsen, K., Huis’int Veld, F. and Osterhamel, P. Auditorybrain stem responses in the diagnosis of cerebellopontine angle tumors. Scand. Audiol., 19776 43‘47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thornton, A.R.D. and Hawkes, C.H. Neurological applications of surface recorded electrocochleography. J. Neurol.,Neurosurg. Psych., 197639 586–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yamada, O., Yagi, F., Yamane, H. and Suzuki, J.-I. Clinical evaluation of the auditory evoked brain stem response. Auris Nasus Larynx., 1975,297.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold Starr
    • 1
  • L. Joseph Achor
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations