Exploring the Role of Medial Olivocochlear Efferents on the Detection of Amplitude Modulation for Tones Presented in Noise

Magdalena Wojtczak, Alix M. Klang, Nathan T. Torunsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The medial olivocochlear reflex has been hypothesized to improve the detection and discrimination of dynamic signals in noisy backgrounds. This hypothesis was tested here by comparing behavioral outcomes with otoacoustic emissions. The effects of a precursor on amplitude-modulation (AM) detection were measured for a 1- and 6-kHz carrier at levels of 40, 60, and 80 dB SPL in a two-octave-wide noise masker with a level designed to produce poor, but above-chance, performance. Three types of precursor were used: a two-octave noise band, an inharmonic complex tone, and a pure tone. Precursors had the same overall level as the simultaneous noise masker that immediately followed the precursor. The noise precursor produced a large improvement in AM detection for both carrier frequencies and at all three levels. The complex tone produced a similarly large improvement in AM detection at the highest level but had a smaller effect for the two lower carrier levels. The tonal precursor did not significantly affect AM detection in noise. Comparisons of behavioral thresholds and medial olivocochlear efferent effects on stimulus frequency otoacoustic emissions measured with similar stimuli did not support the hypothesis that efferent-based reduction of cochlear responses contributes to the precursor effects on AM detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-413
Number of pages19
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant R01 DC 015462 (M.W.) from the National Institutes of Health.


  • amplitude-modulation detection
  • medial olivocochlear efferents
  • neural adaptation


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the Role of Medial Olivocochlear Efferents on the Detection of Amplitude Modulation for Tones Presented in Noise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this