J Am Acad Audiol 2017; 28(10): 950-960
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.16112
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2017) American Academy of Audiology

Unraveling the Mystery of Auditory Brainstem Response Corrections: The Need for Universal Standards

Linda W. Norrix
David Velenovsky
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Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: The auditory brainstem response (ABR) is used to estimate behavioral hearing thresholds in infants and difficult-to-test populations. Differences between the toneburst ABR and behavioral thresholds exist making the correspondence between the two measures less than perfect. Some authors have suggested that corrections be applied to ABR thresholds to account for these differences. However, because there is no agreed upon universal standard, confusion regarding the use of corrections exists.

Purpose: The primary purpose of this article is to review the reasoning behind and use of corrections when the toneburst ABR is employed to estimate behavioral hearing thresholds. We also discuss other considerations that all audiologists should be aware of when obtaining and reporting ABR test results.

Results: A review of the purpose and use of corrections reveals no consensus as to whether they should be applied or which should be used. Additionally, when ABR results are adjusted, there is no agreement as to whether additional corrections for hearing loss or the age of the client are necessary. This lack of consensus can be confusing for all individuals working with hearing-impaired children and their families.

Conclusions: Toneburst ABR thresholds do not perfectly align with behavioral hearing thresholds. Universal protocols for the use of corrections are needed. Additionally, evidence-based procedures must be employed to obtain valid ABRs that will accurately estimate hearing thresholds.