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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 80  |  Page : 10--20

Distortion product otoacoustic emissions in college music majors and nonmusic majors

1 School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA
2 Department of Audiology, Mayo Clinic Health System, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rebecca L. Warner Henning
School of Comm. Sci. & Disorders, University of WI-Stevens Point, 1901 Fourth Ave., Stevens Point, 54481, WI
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.174372

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The presence and absence of distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) as well as DPOAE amplitudes were compared between college music majors and a control group of nonmusic majors. Participants included 28 music majors and 35 nonmusic majors enrolled at a university with ages ranging from 18-25 years. DPOAEs and hearing thresholds were measured bilaterally on all the participants. DPOAE amplitudes were analyzed at the following f2 frequencies: 1,187 Hz, 1,500 Hz, 1,906 Hz, 2,531 Hz, 3,031 Hz, 3812 Hz, 4,812 Hz, and 6,031 Hz. Significantly more music majors (7/28) than nonmusic majors (0/35) exhibited absent DPOAEs for at least one frequency in at least one ear. Both groups of students reported similar histories of recreational and occupational noise exposures that were unrelated to studying music, and none of the students reported high levels of noise exposure within the previous 48 h. There were no differences in audiometric thresholds between the groups at any frequency. At DPOAE f2 frequencies from 3,031 Hz to 6,031 Hz, nonsignificantly lower amplitudes of 2-4 dB were seen in the right ears of music majors versus nonmajors, and in the right ears of music majors playing brass instruments compared to music majors playing nonbrass instruments. Given the greater prevalence of absent DPOAEs in university music majors compared to nonmusic majors, it appears that early stages of cochlear damage may be occurring in this population. Additional research, preferably longitudinal and across multiple colleges/universities, would be beneficial to more definitively determine when the music students begin to show signs of cochlear damage, and to identify whether any particular subgroups of music majors are at a greater risk of cochlear damage.


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