On the Relationship Between Musicianship and Contralateral Suppression of Transient-Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: The medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferent reflex that modulates outer hair cell function has been shown to be more robust in musicians versus nonmusicians as evidenced in greater contralateral suppression of transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs). All previous research comparing musical ability and MOC efferent strength has defined musicianship dichotomously (i.e., high-level music students or professional classical musicians versus nonmusicians).
Purpose: The objective of the study was to further explore contralateral suppression of TEOAEs among adults with a full spectrum of musicianship ranging from no history of musicianship to professional musicians. Musicianship was defined by both self-report and with an objective test to quantify individual differences in perceptual music skills.
Research Design: A single-factor between-subjects and correlational research designs were employed.
Study Sample: Forty-five normal-hearing young adults participated.
Data Collection and Analysis: Participants completed a questionnaire concerning their music experience and completed the Brief Profile of Music Perception Skills (PROMS) to quantify perceptual musical skills across multiple musical domains (i.e., accent, melody, tempo, and tuning). TEOAEs were evaluated with 60 dB peak equivalent sound pressure level click stimuli with and without a contralateral 65 dB sound pressure level white noise suppressor. TEOAE suppression was expressed in two ways, absolute TEOAE suppression in dB and a normalized index of TEOAE suppression (i.e., percentage of suppression).
Results: Participants who considered themselves musicians scored significantly higher on all subscales and total Brief PROMS score (p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference between musicians and nonmusicians in absolute TEOAE suppression or percentage of TEOAE suppression (p > 0.05). There were no statistically significant correlations or linear predictive relationships between subscale or total Brief PROMS scores with absolute and percentage of TEOAE suppression (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: The findings do not support the notion of a graded enhancement of MOC efferent suppression among adults with varied degrees of musicianship from nonmusicians to professional musicians.