Pure-tone auditory thresholds are not chronically elevated in multiple sclerosis

Richard L. Doty, Isabelle Tourbier, Sherrie Davis, Jennifer Rotz, Jennifer L. Cuzzocreo, Jonathan Treem, Neil Shephard, Dzung L. Pham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Despite the fact that acute cases of multiple sclerosis (MS)-related pure-tone hearing loss have been reported in the literature, consensus is lacking as to the chronic influences of MS on pure-tone thresholds. Most studies examining such influences have been limited by small sample sizes, lack of statistical comparisons between patients and controls, and confounding of the hearing measure with influences from sex and age. To date, associations between pure-tone thresholds and central MS-related brain lesions have not been assessed. In this study, pure-tone thresholds ranging from 0.5 to 8 kHz were measured in 73 MS patients and 73 individually age- and gender-matched normal controls. In 63 MS patients, correlations were computed between the threshold values and MRI-determined lesion activity in 26 central brain regions. Although thresholds were strongly influenced by sex, age, and tonal frequency, no meaningful influences of MS were discerned. Moreover, no significant association between the threshold values and central MS-related lesion activity was evident in any brain region evaluated. This study, the largest on this topic to use carefully matched control subjects and the sole study to assess relationships between auditory thresholds and central MS-related lesions, strongly suggests that (a) MS is not chronically associated with pure-tone hearing loss and (b) pure-tone thresholds are unrelated to MS lesion activity in higher brain regions. These findings, along with general reports from the literature, support the concept that when MS-related hearing threshold deficits are found, they are episodic and primarily dependent on lesions within the eighth nerve or brainstem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-324
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory thresholds
  • Hearing
  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psychophysics
  • Pure-tone thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Pure-tone auditory thresholds are not chronically elevated in multiple sclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this