Melville, New York, May 7, 2002
How do air bubbles provide the key to reducing damage in the treatment of kidney stones? Can infants remember complex musical passages for weeks at a time? How can ultrasound prevent dangerous complications in the aftermath of a popular coronary artery procedure?
These and other questions will be addressed at the 143rd meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, to be held from June 3-7 2002 at the Hilton Pittsburgh Hotel and Towers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Over 700 papers will be presented. The ASA is the largest scientific organization in the United States devoted to acoustics, with over 7000 members worldwide.
WHEN SOUND EFFECTS ARE BETTER THAN THE REAL THING REDUCING DAMAGE DURING KIDNEY STONE PROCEDURE MUSICIAN IN THE MACHINE MAKING STENTS SAFER THE ACOUSTICAL WORLD OF BIRDS ESTABLISHING A U.S. PUBLIC POLICY FOR NOISE ADVENTURES IN 3D SOUND FREE REED INSTRUMENTS NOVEL TREATMENT FOR TINNITUS SCHOOL CAFETERIA NOISE TRANSFORMING VAUDEVILLE PALACES FOR MODERN MUSIC AND THEATER THE CAT'S MEOW INFANTS' LONG-TERM MEMORY FOR COMPLEX MUSIC
In research that's relevant to this summer's movies--and the complex ways in which humans process auditory information--new experiments demonstrate that people sometimes perceive an artificial version of a sound to be more convincing than the actual, real-life sound it's meant to imitate. For movies, sound-effect technicians (called "Foley artists") often recreate a sound--such as footsteps in the snow-by recording a completely unrelated physical event--such as squeezing a box of cornstarch. In experimental studies of a group of listeners with headphones, Brown University researchers (Laurie Heller, email@example.com and Lauren Wolf) played twelve sound effects and the sounds of the real-life events they were meant to emulate. When the listeners were told of the intended sound (such as footsteps in the snow), but not whether it was the real or artificial version, they sometimes judged the artificial sound effects to be more realistic than recordings of the actual event. Sometimes these effects succeed because they produce similar sound waves, but oftentimes their acoustical characteristics differ significantly from the sounds they are meant to mimic. According to Heller and Wolf, these differences can provide illuminating information on which acoustical features are most important, and which are extraneous, for perceiving an intended sound (Paper 1pPP10).
In what researchers are saying is the first technical improvement since the introduction of shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) as a treatment for kidney stones, Dr. Pei Zhong ( firstname.lastname@example.org), graduate student Yufeng Zhou ( email@example.com ) of Duke University, and colleagues are presenting work on a modified lithotripter shock wave (LSW) profile that reduces vascular tissue damage during the procedure. Renal vascular injury is a common side effect of SWL, which uses pulsed ultrasound to break up kidney stones, and is a risk especially for pediatric and elderly patients who have higher rates of chronic injury following SWL. The Duke researchers found that rupture of the small blood vessels, the primary feature of vascular injury during SWL, is caused by the rapid expansion of intraluminal bubbles induced by the LSW. The researchers found that modifying the shock wave to suppress large bubble expansion allowed them to break up the kidney stone with reduced vascular damage (5aBBa2).
Computers are playing increasingly significant roles in music composition and performance every day. In fact, new research into interactive computer music systems is leading to machines that are not merely musical tools and instruments, but are also intended to function as musicians. Speakers in session 2aMU explore the concept of computers as musicians. The session begins with a talk by Joel Chadabe (Electronic Music Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org) who ponders the "interactive creativity" that may erupt when a performer is matched with a machine that produces music in response to many inputs, of which only one is the human performer. Robert Rowe of New York University ( email@example.com) will describe techniques to convey musicianship to computers so that they might make sense of the sounds they hear, perform music expressively, and compose convincing pieces, among other musical tasks. Christopher Raphael (University of Massachusetts, firstname.lastname@example.org) will confront the challenge of making computers listen to music - in particular, teaching them to follow a soloist through a piece despite musical variations and occasional errors. Other talks in the session include a description of Internet-based systems to train human musicians (2aMU3), and a laptop-based interactive computer music system (2aMU2).
Stenting, the implantation of a mesh tube to keep blocked artery regions open, is becoming one of the most valuable tools doctors have for treating coronary artery disease. However, problems with the stent can sometimes cause life-threatening complications. Now Dr. Junru Wu ( email@example.com) at the University of Vermont in collaboration with Dr Sanjay Kaul (Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles) and Eric Weissman (Noveon, Inc., Cleveland, OH) have found in animal studies that a broadband narrow ultrasonic pulse can be used to detect clots that form inside of stents in vascular blood vessels. Clots can interfere with normal blood flow and in extreme cases lead to heart failure. Dr. Wu says this new research could lead to a desktop device used in medical offices, or even by patients themselves, to screen stent function and detect clots early enough to be treated with drugs rather than invasive surgery. (Paper 5pBB6, Friday, 3:20PM).
Researchers are uncovering fascinating new details of birds' behavior by studying their acoustical communication. Jacky Mallett ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and Irene Pepperberg of the MIT Media Lab have created a database containing information on 150 birds in the Northeast United States. Providing what the researchers describe as a more general picture of bird vocalizations than previously possible, the database contains the detailed auditory characteristics of songs from these birds. Employing techniques from previous work in automatic music recognition and auditory analysis, the researchers found evidence that a particular set of dominant frequencies in a bird's song contains a distinctive fingerprint that can be used to identify its species (3aABa4). Studying the effects of noise on bird hearing, Robert Dooling ( email@example.com) and Micheal Dent of the University of Maryland find evidence that birds are resistant to damage and interference from noise and have developed a variety of strategies to communicate effectively (3aABa1). Exploring acoustic communication between razorbills in Canada, Stephen J. Insley of Hubbs-Seaworld, and Rosana Paredes Vela and Ian L. Jones of the Memorial University of Newfoundland ( firstname.lastname@example.org) have found evidence that razorbill young tend to recognize the calls of their fathers better than their mothers. The researchers hypothesize that that this occurs because razorbill chicks spend time alone with their fathers at sea, where communication is most important for their survival (3aAba3).
Noise continues to be a persistent--and in many cases, increasing--problem worldwide. However, the US has lacked a national noise policy ever since 1981, when the federal government cut off funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Noise Abatement and Control. At session 3aNS, speakers will discuss efforts to establish up-to-date public policy for noise in the absence of such a federal agency. Acoustical consultant Lawrence S. Finegold ( email@example.com) will describe an evolving concept, known as community-based environmental noise management, for providing practical guidance to local communities in developing noise management policies (3aNS10). Other topics at the session include the benefits and disadvantages of the US military's self-regulatory policy on noise from military training (3aNS8); the complexities of regulating anthropogenic underwater noise (3aNS3); efforts by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to revisit its 1972 recommendations for occupational noise limits (3aNS7); and a call for revitalizing our national noise policy (3aNS6). Ed Walsh of Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska ( firstname.lastname@example.org) will discuss the establishment of an ASA committee known as the Panel on Public Policy, whose mission is to "serve the public interest by addressing and commenting on societal issues that fall within the broad range of disciplines that define the scope of the [Acoustical] Society" (3aNS1).
Surround sound home-theater systems demonstrate the dramatic effect of immersing a listener in a sound field from all directions. Researchers are demonstrating improvements in 3D sound-and developing interesting new applications. Heinz Teutsch of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany ( email@example.com) will describe successful efforts to enlarge a surround sound system's "sweet spot," the place in which a listener sits to experience the intended 3D audio effect. Teutsch is a participant in a European project named CARROUSO that aims to advance sound-playback technology (2aEA4). Numerous speakers such as Nathan Sheets and Lily Wang of the University of Nebraska ( firstname.lastname@example.org) will describe "auralization," the process of using loudspeakers to simulate a specific acoustical space (1pAA1). A kind of virtual reality for sound, auralization is a useful tool in designing acoustically sensitive spaces. Acoustical consultant Jennifer Hinckley ( email@example.com) will discuss the use of computer models to design classrooms with better acoustics (2pAA5). Claus Lynge Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark ( firstname.lastname@example.org) will discuss the use of auralization in a European research project, CAHRISMA, with the goal of restoring acoustics in old Byzantine churches and mosques in Istanbul (3aAAa1). In efforts to simulate the acoustics of a concert hall in a rehearsal room, Paolo Martignon of the University of Padua in Italy will discuss the use of microphones and speakers to recreate the acoustics of the Italian auditorium Niccolo Paganini in a rehearsal room (1pAA9).
The harmonica, accordion, and concertina are just a few of the many instruments built around free reeds. Unlike reeds that beat against a surface or another reed (as in clarinets and oboes, for example), a free reed consists of a flat strip of wood, plastic, or metal mounted at one end and free to vibrate at the other when subject to flowing air. Session 2pMUa includes papers that delve into free-reed history and contemporary research. The early history of free reeds is the focus of a paper by James P. Cottingham (2pMUa1, Coe College, email@example.com). Jonas Braasch ( 2pMUa2, Ruhr-Universitt Bochum, Jonas.Braaschfirstname.lastname@example.org) will compare an early theory of resonator-coupled free reeds to modern theories, and later ponder the possible Asian origins of European free-reeds (2pMUa4). Mechanical measurements from the reed organ, accordion and khaen are the focus of a talk by Michael Busha (2pMUa5, Grinnell College), while Takafumi Hikichi (2pMUa3, NTT Corporation, email@example.com) will discuss measurements of reed vibration and pressure variation in a Japanese sho mouth organ. Other papers include a new free reed model inspired by a harmonica simulation, and a study of coupling between a harmonica and a musician's oral tract. A subsequent session will feature performances by accordionist Henry Doktorski and harmonica player Howard Levy, two of the world's most accomplished free-reed musicians.
An estimated 36 million people in the US suffer from tinnitus, the sensation of ringing in the ears that occurs even in the absence of outside noise. Conventional treatments for tinnitus have not been widely successful. Inspired by mounting evidence that the condition is partially caused by re-wiring of nerve cells in a specific brain area, Martin Lenhardt ( firstname.lastname@example.org) of Virginia Commonwealth University and his colleagues have been exploring a novel treatment of the condition. In highly targeted efforts to re-program the area of the brain responsible for tinnitus, they have created a mechanical device that attaches to the back of the ear. The device vibrates specific areas around the ear, with the goal of stimulating high-frequency sound receptors in the inner ear. Such stimulation, they hypothesize, may travel to the brain and re-program the nerve cells in the desired fashion. In a recent pilot study of 9 people with this condition, 6 of 8 subjects rated their tinnitus as improved after 2-4 months of completing the experimental trial. Pre-market application has been filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Such "vibrotactile stimulation," to be discussed at the next ASA meeting, may improve suppression of tinnitus. (2aPPb11; for background, see lay-language paper from last ASA meeting at http://www.acoustics.org/pressroom/httpdocs/142nd/lenhardt.html )
The cafeteria is usually one of the noisiest areas of a school, yet much can be done to improve its acoustics. In work aiming to help schools create less noisy cafeteria environments, Joseph Bridger of Stewart Acoustical Consultants ( email@example.com) will present a new method for predicting noise levels in both new cafeteria designs and renovations to existing spaces. He will present acoustical measurements of an existing school cafeteria before and after renovations were added. Like adults, children raise their voice levels when room noise makes their speech less intelligible to neighbors. However, Bridger says that children have more difficulty than adults in such conditions. (4aAA6). In other efforts to improve classroom acoustics, Ruth Litovsky of the University of Wisconsin-Madison ( Litovsky@waisman.wisc.edu) will present studies exploring the effect of room reverberations on a child's ability to understand the speech from an intended source such as a teacher. (4aPP7)
Vaudeville music halls and classic movie houses of the 1920s and 30s are making a comeback. But this is not due to any resurgence in live variety shows or classic movies. Instead, these historic spaces are being renovated into multi-purpose concert halls, which is proving to be surprisingly challenging. Many of these spaces present significant limitations such as shallow stage depth, small orchestra pits and deep balcony overhangs, according to acoustical consultants Christopher Jaffe ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and Robin Glosemeyer (2aAA5). Yet success is possible--and some localities renovate these halls both to preserve history and to avoid the cost of building a new hall from scratch. Acoustical consultants will discuss renovations of Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall (2aAA3); the Coronado theater in Rockford, Illinois (2aAA2); the Oscar Mayer Theater in Madison, Wisconsin (2aAA4), and Phoenix's Orpheum Theatre, which was once Phoenix's tallest building (2AAA1). In a separate poster session (1aAA), presenters will discuss the acoustics of 70 halls from around the world.
Humans have shaped the evolution of the house cat (felis catus) since its domestication more than 5000 years ago. Part of this evolution is the development of vocal expression from cat to human owner. Investigating this issue, a Cornell researcher (Nicholas Nicastro, email@example.com) aimed to determine which acoustic properties in cats best convey qualities like pleasantness and urgency to humans. Presenting recordings of 100 meows, Nicastro asked one group of subjects to rate the meows for pleasantness on a scale of 1 to 7, and another group to rate the meows for urgency on the same scale. For the meows most highly rated for pleasantness, acoustic characteristics included reduced frequency modulations (that is, reduced variations in pitch during a single meow), an overall downward shift in pitch, and fewer noisy segments in the meow. Urgency was indicated by such properties as a longer meow duration and enhanced energy at lower frequencies. Nicastro speculates that these acoustic properties and human reactions to them may form the basis of how cats can convey more specific meanings to humans. These findings may also provide insights on how language evolves from non-linguistic calls (3aABb2).
McGill University researchers have found new evidence that infants can remember complex pieces of music for long periods of time. Beatriz Ilari ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and her colleagues exposed a group of thirty 7.5-month-old infants to one of two Ravel piano pieces every day for 10 days. Waiting another two weeks, they played 8 different excerpts of the familiar piece and 8 excerpts of the unfamiliar one for the infants. To test for their recognition of the music, they employed the headturn preference procedure, in which they observed how long an infant turns his or her head in the direction of the music. The researchers found that the infants displayed a significant preference for the piece of music they heard two weeks earlier. The findings suggest that infants can retain music in their long-term memory for at least two weeks (4pSC8). These results confirm other recent studies, including one by the late Peter Jusczyk, a pioneering Johns Hopkins researcher who is being honored in a session (4pSC) that contains many other new findings in infant speech perception.
These items were prepared by Ben Stein, Rory Richards, and James Riordon of the American Institute of Physics in cooperation with the Acoustical Society of America.
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