Assessing hearing by measuring heartbeat: The effect of sound level.
ABSTRACT: Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive brain imaging technique that measures changes in oxygenated and de-oxygenated hemoglobin concentration and can provide a measure of brain activity. In addition to neural activity, fNIRS signals contain components that can be used to extract physiological information such as cardiac measures. Previous studies have shown changes in cardiac activity in response to different sounds. This study investigated whether cardiac responses collected using fNIRS differ for different loudness of sounds. fNIRS data were collected from 28 normal hearing participants. Cardiac response measures evoked by broadband, amplitude-modulated sounds were extracted for four sound intensities ranging from near-threshold to comfortably loud levels (15, 40, 65 and 90 dB Sound Pressure Level (SPL)). Following onset of the noise stimulus, heart rate initially decreased for sounds of 15 and 40 dB SPL, reaching a significantly lower rate at 15 dB SPL. For sounds at 65 and 90 dB SPL, increases in heart rate were seen. To quantify the timing of significant changes, inter-beat intervals were assessed. For sounds at 40 dB SPL, an immediate significant change in the first two inter-beat intervals following sound onset was found. At other levels, the most significant change appeared later (beats 3 to 5 following sound onset). In conclusion, changes in heart rate were associated with the level of sound with a clear difference in response to near-threshold sounds compared to comfortably loud sounds. These findings may be used alone or in conjunction with other measures such as fNIRS brain activity for evaluation of hearing ability.
Project description:Understanding female mate preference is important for determining the strength and direction of sexual trait evolution. The sound pressure level (SPL) acoustic signalers use is often an important predictor of mating success because higher sound pressure levels are detectable at greater distances. If females are more attracted to signals produced at higher sound pressure levels, then the potential fitness impacts of signalling at higher sound pressure levels should be elevated beyond what would be expected from detection distance alone. Here we manipulated the sound pressure level of cricket mate attraction signals to determine how female phonotaxis was influenced. We examined female phonotaxis using two common experimental methods: spherical treadmills and open arenas. Both methods showed similar results, with females exhibiting greatest phonotaxis towards loud sound pressure levels relative to the standard signal (69 vs. 60 dB SPL) but showing reduced phonotaxis towards very loud sound pressure level signals relative to the standard (77 vs. 60 dB SPL). Reduced female phonotaxis towards supernormal stimuli may signify an acoustic startle response, an absence of other required sensory cues, or perceived increases in predation risk.
Project description:Echolocating big brown bats fly, orient, forage, and roost in cluttered acoustic environments in which aggregate sound pressure levels can be as intense as 100 to 140?dB SPL, levels that would impair auditory perception in other terrestrial mammals. We showed previously that bats exposed to intense wide-band sound (116?dB SPL) can navigate successfully through dense acoustic clutter. Here, we extend these results by quantifying performance of bats navigating through a cluttered scene after exposure to intense band-limited sounds (bandwidths 5-25?kHz, 123?dB SPL). Behavioral performance was not significantly affected by prior sound exposure, with the exception of one bat after exposure to one sound. Even in this outlying case, performance recovered rapidly, by 10?min post-exposure. Temporal patterning of biosonar emissions during successful flights showed that bats maintained their individual strategies for navigating through the cluttered scene before and after exposures. In unsuccessful flights, interpulse intervals were skewed towards shorter values, suggesting a shift in strategy for solving the task rather than a hearing impairment. Results confirm previous findings that big brown bats are not as susceptible to noise-induced perceptual impairments as are other terrestrial mammals exposed to sounds of similar intensity and bandwidth.
Project description:The mammalian cochlea possesses unique acoustic sensitivity due to a mechanoelectrical 'amplifier', which requires the metabolic support of the cochlear lateral wall. Loud sound exposure sufficient to induce permanent hearing damage causes cochlear blood flow reduction, which may contribute to hearing loss. However, sensory epithelium involvement in the cochlear blood flow regulation pathway is not fully described. We hypothesize that genetic manipulation of the mechanoelectrical transducer complex will abolish sound induced cochlear blood flow regulation. We used salsa mice, a Chd23 mutant with no mechanoelectrical transduction, and deafness before p56. Using optical coherence tomography angiography, we measured the cochlear blood flow of salsa and wild-type mice in response to loud sound (120?dB SPL, 30?minutes low-pass filtered noise). An expected sound induced decrease in cochlear blood flow occurred in CBA/CaJ mice, but surprisingly the same sound protocol induced cochlear blood flow increases in salsa mice. Blood flow did not change in the contralateral ear. Disruption of the sympathetic nervous system partially abolished the observed wild-type blood flow decrease but not the salsa increase. Therefore sympathetic activation contributes to sound induced reduction of cochlear blood flow. Additionally a local, non-sensory pathway, potentially therapeutically targetable, must exist for cochlear blood flow regulation.
Project description:Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are famous for their visually driven behaviors . Here, however, we present behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that these animals also perceive and respond to airborne acoustic stimuli, even when the distance between the animal and the sound source is relatively large (?3 m) and with stimulus amplitudes at the position of the spider of ?65 dB sound pressure level (SPL). Behavioral experiments with the jumping spider Phidippus audax reveal that these animals respond to low-frequency sounds (80 Hz; 65 dB SPL) by freezing-a common anti-predatory behavior characteristic of an acoustic startle response. Neurophysiological recordings from auditory-sensitive neural units in the brains of these jumping spiders showed responses to low-frequency tones (80 Hz at ?65 dB SPL)-recordings that also represent the first record of acoustically responsive neural units in the jumping spider brain. Responses persisted even when the distances between spider and stimulus source exceeded 3 m and under anechoic conditions. Thus, these spiders appear able to detect airborne sound at distances in the acoustic far-field region, beyond the near-field range often thought to bound acoustic perception in arthropods that lack tympanic ears (e.g., spiders) . Furthermore, direct mechanical stimulation of hairs on the patella of the foreleg was sufficient to generate responses in neural units that also responded to airborne acoustic stimuli-evidence that these hairs likely play a role in the detection of acoustic cues. We suggest that these auditory responses enable the detection of predators and facilitate an acoustic startle response. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Project description:Insects have evolved a marked diversity of mechanisms to produce loud conspicuous sounds for efficient communication. However, the risk of eavesdropping by competitors and predators is high. Here, we describe a mechanism for producing extremely low-intensity ultrasonic songs (46 dB sound pressure level at 1 cm) adapted for private sexual communication in the Asian corn borer moth, Ostrinia furnacalis. During courtship, the male rubs specialized scales on the wing against those on the thorax to produce the songs, with the wing membrane underlying the scales possibly acting as a sound resonator. The male's song suppresses the escape behavior of the female, thereby increasing his mating success. Our discovery of extremely low-intensity ultrasonic communication may point to a whole undiscovered world of private communication, using "quiet" ultrasound.
Project description:Concurrent sound associated with very bright meteors manifests as popping, hissing, and faint rustling sounds occurring simultaneously with the arrival of light from meteors. Numerous instances have been documented with -11 to -13 brightness. These sounds cannot be attributed to direct acoustic propagation from the upper atmosphere for which travel time would be several minutes. Concurrent sounds must be associated with some form of electromagnetic energy generated by the meteor, propagated to the vicinity of the observer, and transduced into acoustic waves. Previously, energy propagated from meteors was assumed to be RF emissions. This has not been well validated experimentally. Herein we describe experimental results and numerical models in support of photoacoustic coupling as the mechanism. Recent photometric measurements of fireballs reveal strong millisecond flares and significant brightness oscillations at frequencies ?40?Hz. Strongly modulated light at these frequencies with sufficient intensity can create concurrent sounds through radiative heating of common dielectric materials like hair, clothing, and leaves. This heating produces small pressure oscillations in the air contacting the absorbers. Calculations show that -12 brightness meteors can generate audible sound at ~25?dB SPL. The photoacoustic hypothesis provides an alternative explanation for this longstanding mystery about generation of concurrent sounds by fireballs.
Project description:In the "loud-tone" procedure, a series of brief, loud, pure-tone stimuli are presented in a task-free situation. It is an established paradigm for measuring autonomic sensitization in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Successful use of this procedure during fMRI requires elicitation of brain responses that have sufficient signal-noise ratios when recorded in a supine, rather than sitting, position. We investigated the modulating effects of posture and stimulus spectral composition on peripheral psychophysiological responses to loud sounds. Healthy subjects (N = 24) weekly engaged in a loud-tone-like procedure that presented 500 msec, 95 dB sound pressure level, pure-tone or white-noise stimuli, either while sitting or supine and while peripheral physiological responses were recorded. Heart rate, skin conductance, and eye blink electromyographic responses were larger to white-noise than pure-tone stimuli (p's < 0.001, generalized eta squared 0.073-0.076). Psychophysiological responses to the stimuli were similar in the sitting and supine position (p's ? 0.082). Presenting white noise, rather than pure-tone, stimuli may improve the detection sensitivity of the neural concomitants of heightened autonomic responses by generating larger responses. Recording in the supine position appears to have little or no impact on psychophysiological response magnitudes to the auditory stimuli.
Project description:Nocturnal insects have evolved ultrasound-sensitive hearing in response to predation pressures from echolocating insectivorous bats. Flying tympanate moths take various evasive actions when they detect bat cries, including turning away, performing a steering/zigzagging flight and ceasing flight. In general, infrequent ultrasonic pulses with low sound intensities that are emitted by distant bats evoke slight turns, whereas frequent and loud ultrasonic pulses of nearby bats evoke erratic or rapid unpredictable changes in the flight path of a moth. Flight cessation, which is a freezing response that causes the moth to passively dive (drop) to the ground, is considered the ultimate last-ditch evasive behaviour against approaching bats where there is a high predation threat. Here, we found that the crambid moth Nomophila nearctica never performed passive dives in response to frequent and loud ultrasonic pulses of >60 dB sound pressure level (SPL) that simulated the attacking echolocation call sequence of the predominant sympatric insectivorous bat Eptesicus fuscus, but rather turned away or flew erratically, regardless of the temporal structure of the stimulus. Consequently, N. nearctica is likely to survive predation by bats by taking early evasive action even when it detects the echolocation calls of sympatric bats hunting other insects at a distance. Since aerially hawking bats can track and catch erratically flying moths after targeting their prey, this early escape strategy may be common among night-flying tympanate insects.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Pediatric vestibular evaluations incorporate cervical and ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potential (c- and oVEMP, respectively) testing; however, in children, c- and oVEMP thresholds have been minimally investigated and frequency tuning is unknown. Children are also at risk for unsafe sound exposure secondary to VEMP. While it is unknown if VEMP threshold testing leads to cochlear changes, it is possible that this risk increases due to the increased number of trials needed to obtain a threshold. Obtaining VEMP thresholds at various frequencies in children provides further information for pediatric normative VEMP data. Assessing for cochlear changes after VEMP threshold testing would provide information on the safety of threshold VEMP testing in children. The objectives of this study were to (1) characterize c- and oVEMP thresholds in children, adolescents, and young adults with normal hearing using 500 and 750 Hz tone burst (TB) stimuli, (2) compare frequency tuning of 500 and 750 Hz TB, and (3) assess whether cochlear changes exist after VEMP threshold testing. It is hypothesized that children, adolescents, and young adults would not show age-related changes to the vestibular system. Therefore, reliable VEMP thresholds would be seen below maximum acoustical stimulation levels (e.g., <125 dB SPL) and frequency tuning will be similar for 500 and 750 Hz TB stimuli. DESIGN:Ten children (age 4-9), 10 adolescents (age 10-19), and 10 young adults (age 20-29) with normal hearing and tympanometry participated. All subjects received c- and oVEMP testing at maximum stimulation and threshold. To address frequency tuning, but not exceed recommended sound exposure allowance, subjects received a 500 Hz TB stimulus in one ear and a 750 Hz TB stimulus in the other ear. Subjects completed tympanometry pre-VEMP, and audiometric threshold testing, distortion product otoacoustic emission testing, and subjective questionnaire pre- and post-VEMP to study the effect of VEMP exposure on cochlear function for each stimulus frequency. RESULTS:(1) cVEMP thresholds were determined for both stimulus frequencies for children (500 Hz = 106 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 106 dB SPL), adolescents (500 Hz = 107.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 109.5 dB SPL), and young adults (500 Hz = 111.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 112 dB SPL). oVEMP thresholds were also obtained in response to both stimulus frequencies for children (500 Hz = 111.1 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 112.2 dB SPL), adolescents (500 Hz = 112.5 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 114.5 dB SPL), and young adults (500 Hz = 116 dB SPL; 750 Hz = 117 dB SPL). Similar thresholds were found between groups except for children who had significantly lower thresholds compared with adults for cVEMP (500 Hz: p = 0.002; 750 Hz: p = 0.004) and oVEMP (500 Hz: p = 0.01; 750 Hz: p = 0.02). In addition, equivalent ear-canal volume and VEMP thresholds were linearly correlated. (2) There was no significant effect of stimulus frequency on VEMP response rates, latencies, peak to peak amplitudes, or thresholds, suggesting similar frequency tuning for 500 and 750 Hz. (3) There were no significant effects of VEMP threshold testing on cochlear function for either stimulus frequency. CONCLUSIONS:Children, adolescents, and young adults show VEMP thresholds below high stimulation levels and had similar frequency tuning between 500 and 750 Hz. Use of 750 Hz could be regarded as the safer stimuli due to its shorter duration and thus reduced sound exposure. Children with smaller ear-canal volume had present responses at maximum stimulation and lower thresholds, suggesting that VEMP testing could be initiated at lower acoustic levels to minimize sound exposure and optimize testing.