Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Biomedical Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ozcan Ozdamar

Second Committee Member

Jorge Bohorquez

Third Committee Member

Fred Telischi

Fourth Committee Member

Rafael Delgado

Fifth Committee Member

Colby Leider


Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) have been under investigation since their discovery 30 years ago (Kemp, 1978). Otoacoustic emissions are quiet sounds generated within the cochlea that can be detected with a sensitive microphone placed within the ear canal. They are used clinically as a hearing screening tool but have the potential for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. For this dissertation, high-resolution instrumentation was developed for improving the acquisition of OAEs. It was shown that a high bit-depth device is required in order to simultaneously characterize the ear canal and the cochlear responses. This led to a reduction in the stimulus artifact that revealed early latency, high-frequency otoacoustic emissions. Next, a swept-tone technique originally developed for use in acoustical systems was formally developed for use in the human ear. The swept-tone technique allows for the simultaneous acquisition of a system's impulse response and its distortion components. The swept-tone was first used in this study to characterize the ear canal transfer properties. From that transfer function, a compensation routine was developed which equalized the magnitude and phase distortions of the ear canal. As a result, an improved acoustical click could be presented to the ear, which allowed for further reduction of the stimulus artifact, revealing early latency emissions. Spectral flatness and effective duration measurements of the compensated click showed an improvement over traditional click stimuli. Furthermore, wavelet analysis and time-frequency latency computations showed that higher frequency otoacoustic emissions were recoverable when using a compensated click stimulus. The swept-tone technique was then utilized for the direct acquisition of otoacoustic emissions. The swept-tone response was compressed to an impulse response and compared to a standard click response. It was found that several similarities exist between the two response types. The divergences, primarily in the low-frequencies, have implications in the generation mechanisms involved in a click-evoked otoacoustic emission. The swept-tone response provided some clinical benefits, namely in an improved signal-to-noise ratio, and in the removal of obstructive synchronized spontaneous OAEs when compared to a standard click response. Current methods are restricted by noise contamination, and the use of a swept-tone technique can reduce the acquisition time by up to a factor of four, compared to standard click methods. These implications and future potential studies are discussed.


Swept-sine Analysis; TEOAE; Time-frequency; Audiometry