Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)


An auditory brainstem response test (ABR) is a test that provides information about the cochlea and brain pathways related to hearing. During this examination, brain wave activity in response to sound is evaluated through recordings made by electrodes attached to the head.

What is it?

An auditory brainstem response (ABR) test is an evaluation conducted to gather information on inner ear function and the brain pathways for hearing. This procedure is typically used for individuals who have difficulty with common types of hearing assessments. Auditory brainstem response is most commonly utilized to evaluate the hearing pathways in small children. Before the procedure, electrodes are affixed to the outside of the head allowing for brain activity to be recorded as the individual undergoing the test is exposed to various clicks. This method of testing does not require the individual being screened to verbally, or otherwise, acknowledge that they hear the sounds because brain activity is being monitored.

What should I do to prepare?

Individuals undergoing this noninvasive evaluation need to set up a time to be assessed. During the testing, it is necessary to lay in a still position and refrain from making noises. Due to this, young children are sometimes placed under sedation or general anesthesia for the duration of the test.

What happens during the process?

Before an ABR test electrodes are affixed to the outside of the head. The electrodes record brain activity throughout the duration of the examination. An individual is then fitted with a pair of headphones that emit several clicks. Brain activity in response to these sounds is then processed and analyzed using computer software.

What are the risks and potential complications?

There are no risks or complications associated with the assessment itself. If a child is going under local anesthetics or anesthesia, there is a risk of reaction.


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