Pediatric Acoustic Reflex (ART)



Acoustic reflex threshold (ART) helps audiologists test for proper middle ear functioning in children by testing the ear's natural reflex to lower the volume of very loud sounds.

Expanded Overview

An Acoustic Reflex Threshold is done in much the same way as Tympanometry—in fact, the two tests are often performed together. During the ART, the audiologist introduces a loud (80 dB) sound to test your child's acoustic reflex. Certain muscles of the inner ear normally contract at sounds between 65dB and 95dB. If the reflex begins at a higher decibel or doesn't occur at all, it may be a sign of a neurological disorder.

An Acoustic Reflex Threshold test lets the audiologist know whether your child's acoustic reflex is working correctly.  In mammals, the acoustic reflex is triggered by loud noises. In humans, the range is usually between 65 dB and 95 dB. Muscles in the inner ear contract to help protect the eardrum from damage. The audiologist adjusts the volume up and down to locate the trigger point of the reflex.

A normal result means your child falls within the usual range. An abnormal ART may show some kind of a neurological disorder or nerve damage. As with tympanometry, an abnormal ART means more tests are needed.


Who needs an acoustic reflex threshold test?

The acoustic reflex threshold test are not “hearing tests.” Instead, they can identify middle ear issues in kids with hearing problems.

What happens during acoustic reflex threshold testing?

The audiologist uses a probe to sends sounds at different decibel levels into your child’s ear. The results are sent to the tympanometer to show an either normal or abnormal reflex.

Is an acoustic reflex threshold test conclusive?

No, but can provide the audiologist with important clues about your child’s condition.


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