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The effects of the amplitude distribution of equal energy exposures on noise-induced hearing loss: the kurtosis metric.

Hamernik-RP; Qiu-W; Davis-B
J Acoust Soc Am 2003 Jul; 114(1):386-395
Seventeen groups of chinchillas with 11 to 16 animals/group (sigmaN = 207) were exposed for 5 days to either a Gaussian (G) noise or 1 of 16 different non-Gaussian (non-G) noises at 100 dB(A) SPL. All exposures had the same total energy and approximately the same flat spectrum but their statistical properties were varied to yield a series of exposure conditions that varied across a continuum from G through various non-G conditions to pure impact noise exposures. The non-G character of the noise was produced by inserting high level transients (impacts or noise bursts) into the otherwise G noise. The peak SPL of the transients, their bandwidth, and the intertransient intervals were varied, as was the rms level of the G noise. The statistical metric, kurtosis (beta), computed on the unfiltered noise beta(t), was varied 3 < or = beta(t) < or = 105. Brainstem auditory evoked responses were used to estimate hearing thresholds and surface preparation histology was used to determine sensory cell loss. Trauma, as measured by asymptotic and permanent threshold shifts (ATS, PTS) and by sensory cell loss, was greater for all of the non-G exposure conditions. Permanent effects of the exposures increased as beta(t) increased and reached an asymptote at beta(t) approximately 40. For beta(t) > 40 varying the interval or peak histograms did not alter the level of trauma, suggesting that, in the chinchilla model, for beta(t) > 40 an energy metric may be effective in evaluating the potential of non-G noise environments to produce hearing loss. Reducing the probability of a transient occurring could reduce the permanent effects of the non-G exposures. These results lend support to those standards documents that use an energy metric for gauging the hazard of exposure but only after applying a "correction factor" when high level transients are present. Computing beta on the filtered noise signal [beta(f)] provides a frequency specific metric for the non-G noises that is correlated with the additional frequency specific outer hair cell loss produced by the non-G noise. The data from the abundant and varied exposure conditions show that the kurtosis of the amplitude distribution of a noise environment is an important variable in determining the hazards to hearing posed by non-Gaussian noise environments.
Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Hearing-loss; Noise-exposure; Exposure-levels; Exposure-assessment; Animals; Animal-studies; Hearing-threshold; Noise-frequencies; Acoustics; Acoustical-measurements; Acoustic-absorption; Audiometry
Auditory Research Laboratory, State University of New York, 107 Beaumont Hall, Plattsburgh, New York 12901, USA
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The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
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State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York