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A Role of Medial Olivocochlear Reflex as a Protection Mechanism from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Revealed in Short-Practicing Violinists.

By Sho Otsuka, Minoru Tsuzaki, Junko Sonoda, Satomi Tanaka and Shigeto Furukawa


Previous studies have indicated that extended exposure to a high level of sound might increase the risk of hearing loss among professional symphony orchestra musicians. One of the major problems associated with musicians' hearing loss is difficulty in estimating its risk simply on the basis of the physical amount of exposure, i.e. the exposure level and duration. The aim of this study was to examine whether the measurement of the medial olivocochlear reflex (MOCR), which is assumed to protect the cochlear from acoustic damage, could enable us to assess the risk of hearing loss among musicians. To test this, we compared the MOCR strength and the hearing deterioration caused by one-hour instrument practice. The participants in the study were music university students who are majoring in the violin, whose left ear is exposed to intense violin sounds (broadband sounds containing a significant number of high-frequency components) during their regular instrument practice. Audiogram and click-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CEOAEs) were measured before and after a one-hour violin practice. There was a larger exposure to the left ear than to the right ear, and we observed a left-ear specific temporary threshold shift (TTS) after the violin practice. Left-ear CEOAEs decreased proportionally to the TTS. The exposure level, however, could not entirely explain the inter-individual variation in the TTS and the decrease in CEOAE. On the other hand, the MOCR strength could predict the size of the TTS and CEOAE decrease. Our findings imply that, among other factors, the MOCR is a promising measure for assessing the risk of hearing loss among musicians

Topics: Medicine, R, Science, Q
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146751
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