The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2018)

DOI: 10.1121/1.5030921


Unlike terrestrial mammals that have unambiguous aerial sound transmission pathways via the outer ear and tympanum, sound reception pathways in most odontocetes are not well understood. Recent studies have used auditory brainstem response (ABR) measurements to examine sound reception pathways. This study sought to determine how sound source placements, recording electrode arrangements, and ABR peak analyses affect interpretations of sound reception in the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Click stimuli were delivered in air from a contact transducer (“jawphone”). Early ABR peaks (representing auditory nerve responses), and later peaks reflecting higher brainstem activity, were analyzed across jawphone and recording electrode positions. Auditory nerve responses were similar for jawphone placements from the ipsilateral posterior mandible to the tip of the rostrum. Later peaks, however, suggested a possible region of highest sensitivity midway between the posterior mandible and the rostrum tip. These findings are generally similar to previous data for porpoises. In contrast to auditory nerve responses that were largest when recorded near the ipsilateral meatus, later ABR peaks were largest when recorded with a contralateral (opposing) electrode. These results provide information on the processes underlying peaks of the ABR, and inform stimulus delivery and ABR recording parameters in odontocete sound reception studies.