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Stress-Related Temporary Hearing Loss—Evaluation of Bio-Humoral Parameters: Forensic and Criminological Applications


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Sara Sblano, M.D., Ph.D.
Via Giustino Fortunato
4 C/10
70125 Bari


Abstract:  The body-alarm reaction results from the activation of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which can lead to physio-psychological phenomena such as an exclusion/occlusion of the sense of hearing. One hypothesis to explain this alteration consists in a hydromechanical dysfunction of the internal ear attributable to antidiuretic hormone. In this study, we evaluated the perception of acoustic stimuli administered in stressful conditions in 14 phobic patients and in 20 healthy subjects, in order to assess the influence of stress on perceiving capabilities. We also measured the concentration of salivary cortisol and IL-1β and neurovegetative parameters to objectivise and quantify the physiological reactions. Our results show a worse perception of the frequencies of the human voice under stress; these findings could have a dual value: in the legal field, concerning criminal liability, and on the operative context, regarding the efficiency of verbal communication among law enforcement officers in situations inducing intense emotional stress.