The ear not only receives sound but also emits sounds of its own. These faint acoustic signals, referred to as otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), originate as backward propagating waves within the structures and fluids of the inner ear and are transmitted via the middle ear to the ear canal, where they can be recorded with a sensitive microphone. Whether measured in response to sound or in the absence of an evoking stimulus, OAEs are considered to be by-products of the active and vulnerable outer hair cell (OHC)–mediated processes that underlie cochlear sensitivity and frequency selectivity. OAEs therefore provide an invaluable window onto the mechanics and function of the cochlea and of OHCs in particular. This entry provides an overview of how OAES are generated, measured, and ...

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