Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)


The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is an auditory evoked potential that originates from the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve is responsible for carrying sound signals to the brain. An auditory evoked potential is the electrical activity in the brain that occurs in response to a sound.


ABR testing can detect damage to the:


    • Cochlea – the auditory portion of the inner ear
    • Auditory nerve – carries sound from the cochlea to the brain
    • Auditory pathways in the brainstem


For the test, padded electrodes are placed comfortably on specific areas of the head and face. Brainwave activity is then recorded while the patient hears a clicking sound. ABR testing is very comfortable and ideally performed while the patient is lying at rest with their eyes closed.


Typically, an ABR is ordered when an infant fails a newborn hearing screening at birth.  It is the gold standard to determine the level of hearing loss following a failed screening. Similar to OAEs, ABR is used to determine hearing thresholds in people who are unable to communicate, such as infants and special populations. To learn more about ABR testing on children and infants, visit Pediatrics.


Hearing Evaluation Services (HES) evaluates the results of your ABR test to get a deeper understanding of your auditory system. This helps to determine where the hearing deficit is occurring and provides further information in selecting a solution to fit the patient’s individual needs.


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