Extended high frequency hearing and speech perception implications in adults and children

Lisa L. Hunter, Brian B. Monson, David R. Moore, Sumitrajit Dhar, Beverly A. Wright, Kevin J. Munro, Lina Motlagh Zadeh, Chelsea M. Blankenship, Samantha M. Stiepan, Jonathan H. Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Extended high frequencies (EHF), above 8 kHz, represent a region of the human hearing spectrum that is generally ignored by clinicians and researchers alike. This article is a compilation of contributions that, together, make the case for an essential role of EHF in both normal hearing and auditory dysfunction. We start with the fundamentals of biological and acoustic determinism – humans have EHF hearing for a purpose, for example, the detection of prey, predators, and mates. EHF hearing may also provide a boost to speech perception in challenging conditions and its loss, conversely, might help explain difficulty with the same task. However, it could be that EHF are a marker for damage in the conventional frequency region that is more related to speech perception difficulties. Measurement of EHF hearing in concert with otoacoustic emissions could provide an early warning of age-related hearing loss. In early life, when EHF hearing sensitivity is optimal, we can use it for enhanced phonetic identification during language learning, but we are also susceptible to diseases that can prematurely damage it. EHF audiometry techniques and standardization are reviewed, providing evidence that they are reliable to measure and provide important information for early detection, monitoring and possible prevention of hearing loss in populations at-risk. To better understand the full contribution of EHF to human hearing, clinicians and researchers can contribute by including its measurement, along with measures of speech in noise and self-report of hearing difficulties and tinnitus in clinical evaluations and studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107922
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Aging
  • Development
  • Extended high frequency audiometry
  • Otitis media
  • Ototoxicity
  • Speech in noise
  • Speech perception
  • Tinnitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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