Sensory threshold estimation from a continuously graded response produced by reflex modification audiometry

Laurence D. Fechter, Lianne Sheppard, John S. Young, Scott Zeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article describes the use of reflex modification to determine sensory detection thresholds. The method is based upon the finding that low-intensity sensory stimuli presented shortly before a reflex eliciting stimulus are able to modify the amplitude of the reflex. The extent of such modification is related to the intensity of the initial low-intensity stimulus. In contrast to earlier reported procedures for threshold estimation, the method described in this article consists of fitting a smooth function to the relationship between startle response amplitude and the intensity of the inhibiting stimulus. The method entails fitting a cubic spline function to the medians of the square-root reflex amplitude at each prestimulus intensity. The resulting audiometrie curves closely approximate audiometrie data obtained from traditional operant methods both in sensitivity and shape. Parametric data are also presented that allow for optimizing stimulus presentation so as to obtain reliable thresholds using a minimal number of test trials. The procedures developed in this article may prove useful in other situations involving the estimation of a threshold effect from a continuously graded response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-185
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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