Korean J Otorhinolaryngol-Head Neck Surg.  2011 Sep;54(9):592-602. 10.3342/kjorl-hns.2011.54.9.592.

Hearing Threshold Prediction Using Auditory Brainstem Response and Auditory Steady-State Response in Infants and Young Children

  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea. klsolkor@chol.com


Between one and three of every 1,000 neonates have sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). It is of utmost importance to minimize the duration of auditory deprivation between the onset of bilateral deafness and intervention using hearing devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants for achieving the best speech percpetion ability. To fit amplification accurately for children with SNHL, hearing thresholds for frequencies in the range of human communication should be evaluated. However, infants and young children are difficult to test using conventional behavioral tests, and hearing thresholds of them can be predicted using auditory brainstem response (ABR) and auditory steady-state response (ASSR). ABR is best evoked by applying a click stimulus, which allows an estimate over a broad range of high frequencies. ABR elicited by tone burst stimulus provides frequency-specific audiometric information. However, it can be difficult to record and observe at near-threshold levels, especially at lower frequencies. ABR thresholds for click and tone burst stimuli are highly correlated with behavioral thresholds, and often give an idea of the shape of an audiogram. ASSR is an auditory evoked potential, elicited with modulated tones. It provides frequency-specific hearing thresholds across the audiometric frequencies, which are well correlated with behavioral thresholds. However, the accuracy of threshold prediction decreases directly with the decrease of degree of hearing loss, and hearing thresholds cannot be predicted for auditory neuropathy. ASSR is most useful for estimating auditory thresholds for patients with no evidence of auditory neuropathy by the click ABR and OAEs, and who have an ABR only at high intensities or no ABR at a maximum stimulus level. Even if hearing thresholds are predicted through ABR and ASSR, behavioral testing including behavioral observation audiometry, visual reinforcement audiometry, or play audiometry should be employed repeatedly to verify the predicted thresholds, becasue the thresholds of ABR and ASSR are not true measure of hearing acuity but just responses generated at the brainstem.


Auditory brainstem response; Auditory steady-state response; Infant; Child

MeSH Terms

Auditory Threshold
Brain Stem
Cochlear Implants
Evoked Potentials, Auditory
Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
Hearing Aids
Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss, Central
Hearing Loss, Sensorineural
Infant, Newborn
Reinforcement (Psychology)
Hearing Loss, Central
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