Newswise — The 163rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) will feature more than 1,300 presentations on the science of sound and its impact on physics, engineering, and medicine. Topics include: hearing and its interplay with the other senses; using sound to monitor the environment; and new insights into human and animal communication.

This international acoustics meeting will be held jointly with the 8th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of China and the 11th Western Pacific Acoustics Conference. It is organized by the Hong Kong Institute of Acoustics and will take place May 13-18, 2012, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The ASA offers complimentary media registration to bona fide working journalists; see details below. Journalists may also remotely access meeting information with ASA’s World Wide Press Room, which will go live one week before the conference begins.

Preliminary Meeting Highlights


Bilingual Households Affect the Development of Speech Perception: Studies of infants growing up in bilingual and single-language households reveal that speech perception – identifying that specific sounds have discrete meanings – develops differently depending on whether a child is exposed to one language or two. Abstract: 1aSCa6

Infrasound Has Much to Say about Volcanic Eruptions: Volcanoes loudly spew rock, ash, lava, and gas. By studying the sounds that volcanoes emit, it’s possible to learn about these complex and violent natural systems and potentially to better monitor them. Abstracts: 1pNSa11 and 1pNSa12

Changes in the Sounds that Ears Make: What’s music to the ear may cause the ear to actually make sounds known as otoacoustic emissions. New research on this effect measures changes in hearing after exposure to live music. Abstract: 1pNSb3

Auditory Scene Analysis: It’s all about expectations: Cocktail parties and other complex acoustic scenes contain an intricate assortment of sounds. How these sounds are perceived depends on the interplay of expectations from actual and prior sound experiences. Abstract: 1pPP1


Pulse Wave Imaging of the Human Carotid Artery: Pulse wave velocity is a measure of arterial stiffness, a predictor of cardiovascular disease. Tests on the human carotid artery show that an emerging measurement method, Pulse Wave Imaging, has potential as a noninvasive diagnostic technique. Abstract: 2sBA5

Acoustic Diode: Diodes act as one-way filters for the flow of electrons. Similar devices also exist for light and heat transmission. Researchers will discuss the first model of an “acoustic diode,” which allows acoustic energy to flow in only one direction. Abstract: 2dEA4

Earthquake Resistance and Acoustic Metamaterials: Researchers propose a new method of earthquake-resistant design using conventional mitigation techniques and specially designed metamaterials that can attenuate acoustic energy. Abstract: 2aEA8

Speech Comprehension: Gestures have the upper hand: Hand gestures combine with speech to form a single integrated system of meaning. A new study reveals that hand gestures are integrated with speech in a privileged fashion. Abstract: 2aSC15


Sonar in the Animal Kingdom: Bats and whales show evolutionary convergence: Bats and toothed whales have independently evolved the capability to use echolocation to locate, track, and capture prey. Though they evolved separately over millions of years in different worlds of darkness, they use surprisingly similar ultrasonic frequency ranges. New studies address and compare the acoustic behavior of these two animals in the wild. Abstract: 3aAB5

High-frequency Energy in Singing and Speech: Human speech and singing includes energy above five kilohertz, a portion of the spectrum that is typically ignored in speech and voice science. This high-frequency energy does more than enhance the quality of sound. It also helps in vocal tract modeling, voice synthesis, hearing aids, and training for singing and speech. Abstract 3aMU12

Protecting Soundscapes in U.S. National Parks: National parks are prized for their visual splendor, but the sounds of nature are also part of that rich experience. Results of various studies to help better manage and protect the quiet and soundscapes of national parks will be presented. Abstract: 3aNSb2


Active Control of Exhaust Noise: The noise generated by internal combustion engines is typically controlled by a passive muffling system. But the performance of this system can degrade significantly when multiple tones exist in the exhaust system. A new system using an air horn takes a different, active approach to canceling noise. Abstract: 4aNSa4

Immediate Changes in the Way Whales Hear: Toothed whales appear to have developed both passive and active control of hearing. This control may enable whales to protect their sensitive hearing if they have advance warning about an impending loud signal. Abstract: 4aAB3

Using Sound to Extract More Energy: Coal remains an important energy source, but its environmental impact can be high, so it’s important to extract the greatest amount of energy out of the least amount of fuel. New research suggests that combustion of pulverized coal can be enhanced by applying high-intensity acoustic fields. Abstract: 4aHT9

Ideal Shape for an Acoustic Guitar: Shapes of acoustic guitars vary widely and are often determined by the individual sensibilities of the craftsmen designing them. Unlike violins and many other instruments, no ideal shape has yet been established for guitars. Researchers conducted an electro-analysis of these instruments in hopes of manufacturing a guitar with enhanced tone quality. Abstract: 4pMUb3


Long-term Effects of Aircraft Noise on Children’s Cognition: Researchers have explored the potential that aircraft noise exposure is associated with children’s cognitive development. A long-term study in England suggests that aircraft noise exposure at primary or secondary school may be associated with poorer reading comprehension. Abstract: 5aNSc1

Selective Attending: The more sounds in an environment, the harder it is to focus on just one. A new study yields insights into the specific reason for this diminished ability to selectively attend to a specific sound. Abstract: 5aPP4

What You Lose in One Sense You May Gain in Another: It is frequently reported that when people lose one of their senses the others become more attuned to help compensate. This assertion may have some evidence to back it up. A study suggests that temporary blindness can improve auditory processing. Abstract: 5aPP10 MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE 163rd ASA MEETING

USEFUL LINKS:Main meeting website: Searchable index: Hotel site:

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOMIn the coming weeks, ASA's World Wide Press Room ( will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay-language papers, which are 300-1200 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.

PRESS REGISTRATIONWe will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact Charles E. Blue ([email protected], 301-209-3091), who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

****************************This news release was prepared for the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICAThe Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, ECHOES newsletter, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at

Register for reporter access to contact details

163rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America