US hearing health, better telephone speech

Acoustics press luncheon, online pressroom feature many new results

Which US population groups have the best and worst hearing, according to a new study? Do whales use their sonar as an x-ray system to identify their dinner? How have researchers improved cell-phone sound quality without changing the existing telecommunications infrastructure? What amazing ultrasound trick did scientists employ to perform what may be the first noninvasive delivery of a medical compound into a specific region of a living brain? These questions will all be answered in a web pressroom and a press luncheon for the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) meeting in Providence, RI.

The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, June 6 from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. in the Blackstone Room of The Westin Providence (One West Exchange St, Providence, RI). The speakers and topics are listed below. The entire acoustics meeting takes place from June 5-9, 2006. Reporters who wish to attend the luncheon, the meeting, or both, should reply to this message and fill out the form at the end of this release.

Even if you can't make it to the meeting, the ASA World Wide Press Room ( now contains more than 25 lay-language papers on some of the most exciting new meeting results. Examples of some papers are listed near the end of this release. A few additional latebreaking papers will be added to the site in the time leading up to the meeting. The WW Press Room also includes links to the general press release for the meeting, and a searchable database of all meeting abstracts.

The following text describes the press luncheon topics, and lists some examples of lay language papers that are available online.

Acoustical Society of America Meeting
Blackstone Room, Westin Providence Hotel
One West Exchange St, Providence, RI
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

1. Better-Sounding Phone Speech with "Bandwidth Extension"
Presenter: Harsha M. Sathyendra, University of Florida, ([email protected]).
Ever wonder why it's hard to tell the difference between words like "sailed" and "failed" on the telephone? It's because phones only transmit a limited range of audio frequencies (between 300-3400 Hz), rather than the 50-8000 Hz range that contains most speech content. Employing a method called bandwidth extension (BWE), Harsha M. Sathyendra ([email protected]), in collaboration with Ismail Uysal ([email protected]), both from the University of Florida, will demonstrate a technique for restoring relevant information to the missing low and high frequencies. Working with existing telecommunications infrastructure, this technique has the potential of improving both mobile-phone and landline audio in the future. (Paper 3aSC5)
--Lay-language paper at
---Meeting abstract at

2. Whale Bubble Nets and Trumpet Sounds for Identifying and Catching Herring.
Orest Diachok, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory ([email protected]), Laurel, MD
In the Gulf of Alaska, humpback whales work in groups to capture herring, with one whale broadcasting sound at a herring school to drive them to the water surface. A second whale blows a "net" of bubbles to encircle the rising school. As Orest Diachok of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD reports, during this process one or more of the whales emits long "trumpet" tones at several different frequencies, one of which resonates with, and is attenuated (absorbed) by the swim bladders of the herring (analogous to x-rays being absorbed by water in human lungs). Diachok proposes that the whales might use this phenomenon to infer the fish length, species, and size of school. (Paper 4aAO5)
--Lay-language paper at
---Meeting abstract at
--Also see lay-language paper on similar topic (Killer Whales and Herring: Using Sound to Get a Meal, by Lee Miller et al.) at

3. Noninvasively Delivering Molecules to Specific Brain Regions
Presenter: Elisa Konofagou, ([email protected]), Columbia University
The Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) prevents pathogens in the bloodstream from entering the brain, but it also prevents the admission of potentially helpful drugs. Researchers in recent years have discovered that ultrasound can temporarily open up the BBB. Injecting microbubbles into mice and applying ultrasound transcranially (through intact skin and skull), a Columbia University group (Elisa Konofagou and James Choi, [email protected]) has demonstrated that it is possible to send gadolinium, an FDA-approved contrast agent used for medical imaging, directly and noninvasively into a part of the mouse brain known as the hippocampus. These results demonstrate the very promising feasibility of using ultrasound to noninvasively deliver drugs to specific parts of the brain. (Paper 1aBB11)
--Lay-language paper at
--Meeting abstract at

4. New Data on Hearing Health
Presenter: William Murphy, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH ([email protected])
Investigating the hearing levels of today's adults and comparing the data to those collected 35 years ago, Murphy will report the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which tested a nationally representative sample of over 5000 individuals in the US population from 1999-2004. The median hearing levels of persons aged 20-69 have changed little from the NHANES conducted from 1971-1975, which examined adults who were 25-74 years of age. In addition, the recent NHANES indicate that, as a function of ethnicity, non-Hispanic blacks have the best hearing and non-Hispanic whites have the poorest hearing thresholds, particularly among males and in the older age groups. (Paper 2aPPb5)
---Meeting abstract at
--Lay-language paper to appear soon at


Propagation of Sound on Mars
By Amanda D Hanford et al., Penn State

Suppression of Offensive Chants at Sporting Events by Sander J. van Wijngaarden et al., TNO Human Factors, Netherlands

When Katrina Hit California
by Peter Gerstoft, UC-San Diego, et al.

A New Family of Stringed Musical Instruments
by Samuel Gaudet and Sophie Léger, University of Moncton, Canada

The Search for Specific Equine Vocal Expression
by David Browning, University of Rhode Island and Peter M. Scheifele, University of Connecticut

How Deep Brain Stimulation Affects Speech in Parkinson's Disease
by Emily Wang, Rush University Medical Center

Keeping in Contact: When Good Sockets Go Bad
by Elizabeth Blickley et al., Pennsylvania State University

Noise in the Operating Room
by Jonathan Kracht, Ilene J. Busch-Vishniac, and James E. West, Johns Hopkins

Music Synthesis for the Terrified: Using Everyday Words to Control Synthesizers
by Alistair Disley et al. The University of York

Adaptive Mechanical Model of Human Footsteps
by Alexander Ekimov and James Sabatier, Univ. of Mississippi

What Was That Snap in the Grass?
by Brian Gygi and Valeriy Shafiro, Acoustics Research Institute, Austria

Acoustics of Boston's Mapparium
by William Hartmann, Michigan State, et al.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Characterizing Shallow Water Sediment
by Jason Holmes, Boston University, et al.

Sound from Light: Playing Notes on Nanoscopic Wires
by A. SampathKumar, Boston University, et al.

Marine Seismic Surveys with Vector Acoustic Sensors
by Dennis Lindwall, Naval Research Laboratory

Bad Vibrations: Treefrog Eggs Use Vibrational Cues to Flee from Predators
by Karen M. Warkentin et al., Boston University


GENERAL PRESS RELEASE (contains many other story ideas)

151st ASA Meeting, Providence, RI
June 5-9, 2006
Please return this form (if you have not already done so) to Ben Stein at [email protected]
___Please sign me up for the ASA Press Luncheon on June 6 in Providence.
___Please sign me up for the meeting.
___Please send me the book of abstracts for the meeting.
___Please put me on a mailing list to receive information on future ASA meetings.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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