The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2016)

DOI: 10.1121/1.4960783


Hearing sensitivity, during trials in which a warning sound preceding a loud sound, was investigated in two harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). Sensitivity was measured using pip-train test stimuli and auditory evoked potential recording. When a hearing test/warning stimulus, with a frequency of either 45 or 32 kHz, preceded a loud 32 kHz tone with a sound pressure level of 152 dB re 1 μPa root mean square, lasting 2 s yielding an sound exposure level (SEL) of 155 dB re 1 μPa2s, pooled hearing thresholds measured just before the loud sound increased relative to baseline thresholds. During two experimental sessions the threshold increased up to 17 dB for the test frequency of 45 kHz and up to 11 dB for the test frequency of 32 kHz. An extinction test revealed very rapid threshold recovery within the first two experimental sessions. The SEL producing the hearing dampening effect was low compared to previous other odontocete hearing change efforts with each individual trial equal to 155 dB re 1 μPa2 but the cumulative SEL for each subsession may have been as high as 168 dB re 1 μPa2. Interpretations of conditioned hearing sensation change and possible change due to temporary threshold shifts are considered for the harbor porpoise and discussed in the light of potential mechanisms and echolocation.