Acoustic echoplanar scanner noise and pure tone hearing thresholds: The effects of sequence repetition times and acoustic noise rates

John L. Ulmer, Bharat B. Biswal, Leighton P. Mark, Vincent P. Mathews, Robert W. Prost, Steven J. Millen, James N. Garman, Dave Horzewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Our goal was to determine the effects of acoustic echoplanar scanner noise on pure tone hearing thresholds in normal volunteers and to determine the influence of echoplanar sequence repetition time on threshold effects. Method: With use of a calibrated audiometer, pure tones ranging from 125 to 8,000 Hz were delivered monaurally to 10 normal-hearing volunteers in a quiet MR scanner suite and in the presence of acoustic scanner noise produced by three separate single shot blipped echoplanar pulse sequences varying only in repetition time (TR = 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 ms), with all other parameters including the number of slices held constant. The magnitude of noise-induced threshold changes and the slopes of the threshold curves produced by each of the three echoplanar pulse sequences were then analyzed using multiple comparisons and a least significant difference method. The shapes of the threshold curves produced in each background state were best fit using a quadratic effect for frequency in a mixed effects linear model and compared using F test statistics. Results: All of the volunteers demonstrated entirely normal hearing thresholds throughout the full range of tonal frequencies tested (<25 dB) when no acoustic scanner noise was present in the scanner suite. Pure tone hearing thresholds significantly increased (p < 0.01) in the presence of acoustic scanner noise, with the magnitude of change inversely proportional to the repetition time and therefore the rate of periodic noise production by the echoplanar sequence used. The shape of the threshold curve in the presence of noise produced by the 1,000 ms TR sequence was not equivalent across the frequency spectrum tested but had a quadratic distribution with peak effects at 750-2,000 Hz. As the repetition time was increased and the periodic noise rate decreased, the magnitude of the noise-induced threshold changes significantly lessened (p < 0.01) and the quadratic distributions of the threshold curves changed significantly (p < 0.01), tending toward a more planar configuration. Conclusion: Background acoustic echoplanar scanner noise can significantly increase pure tone thresholds in the optimal frequency hearing range (125-8,000 Hz). However, the threshold effects are not equivalent across the frequency spectrum, and the magnitude of threshold changes is dependent on the rate at which periodic acoustic scanner noises are produced for a given sequence repetition time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-486
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Tomography
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


  • Brain, metabolism
  • Echoplanar noise
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging, techniques
  • Tonal thresholds


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