Subcortical amplitude modulation encoding deficits suggest evidence of cochlear synaptopathy in normal-hearing 18–19 year olds with higher lifetime noise exposure
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Noise exposure and aging can damage cochlear synapses required for suprathreshold listening, even when cochlear structures needed for hearing at threshold remain unaffected. To control for effects of aging, behavioral amplitude modulation (AM) detection and subcortical envelope following responses (EFRs) to AM tones in 25 age-restricted (18-19 years) participants with normal thresholds, but different self-reported noise exposure histories were studied. Participants with more noise exposure had smaller EFRs and tended to have poorer AM detection than less-exposed individuals. Simulations of the EFR using a well-established cochlear model were consistent with more synaptopathy in participants reporting greater noise exposure.
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