Stanford Audiology


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Auditory Diagnostics

Auditory diagnostics cover a wide variety of measures of the auditory system. These include presenting sounds from earphones or loudspeakers and asking the patient to report whether sounds are heard (detection), how loud the sounds are when they are just barely heard (threshold) and a variety of responses that relate to how clear sounds are perceived (repeat words in quiet, in noise, etc.).

Under some circumstances the sounds are presented through special devices that mechanically vibrate (bone conduction). Many other diagnostic measures involve the patient's physiologic reaction to sounds such as the ear's ability to generate its own sound (otoacoustic emissions), or the brain's ability to process sound (auditory brain stem responses, etc).

Other measures concern air pressures in the ear canal. After all of these measures are performed, a clearer understanding is attained regarding the presence or absence of various auditory system abnormalities, the location of such abnormalities along the auditory pathway from the external ear to the top of the brain, the ear's ability to hear, and in particular, the ability to hear and understand speech.

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