The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test provides information about the inner ear (cochlea) and the central pathways for hearing. The ABR reflects the electrical responses of both the cochlear ganglion neurons and the nuclei of the central auditory pathway to sound stimulation (Zhou et al., 2006; Burkard et al., 2007). The ABR contains 5 identifiable wave forms, labeled as I-V. Wave I represents the summated response from the spiral ganglion and auditory nerve while waves II-V represent responses from the ascending auditory pathway. The ABR is recorded via electrodes placed on the scalp of an anesthetized animal. ABR thresholds refer to the lowest sound pressure level (SPL) that can generate identifiable electrical response waves.
This protocol describes the process of measuring the ABR of small rodents (mouse, rat, guinea pig, etc.), including anesthetizing the mouse, placing the electrodes on the scalp, recording click and tone burst stimuli and reading the obtained waveforms for ABR threshold values. As technology continues to evolve, ABR will likely provide more qualitative and quantitative information regarding the function of the auditory nerve and brainstem pathways involved in hearing.
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