Low-level steady-state auditory evoked potentials: Effects of rate and sedation on detectability

Robert A. Dobie, Michael J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Steady-state auditory evoked potentials (SSAEPs) in alert adults are most detectable at stimulus or modulation rates of about 40 Hz. Sedation reduces the detectability of 40-Hz SSAEPs and increases it for higher rate SSAEPs. This study examined whether rates higher than 40 Hz would be preferable for detecting responses to low-intensity tones in sedated adults. Fourteen normal adults listened to 640-Hz tones at modulation rates (and toneburst rates) of 20-160 Hz, in 10-Hz steps, at levels of 38 and 58 dB peak equivalent sound-pressure level (peSPL) (20 and 40 dB normal hearing level (nHL) for amplitude-modulated (AM) tones), both alert and sedated (1-2 g chloral hydrate). Sedation reduced both signal (SSAEP) power and noise power at all rates, but noise power reduction was greater for higher rates. Detectability in the alert condition was always greatest at 40 Hz. Under sedation, a second detectability peak was present at 90 Hz for 58-dB peSPL tones, approximately equal to that seen at 40 Hz. At 38 dB peSPL (sedated), peak detectability moved from 40 to 50 Hz. These results suggest that presentation/modulation rates around 40 Hz may be optimal for SSAEP detectability at low levels in adults, whether alert or sedated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3482-3488
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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