Effects of underwater sound exposure on neurological function and brain histology

Helmut L. Laurer, Andrew N. Ritting, Andrew B. Russ, Florence M. Bareyre, Ramesh Raghupathi, Kathryn E. Saatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


To evaluate the safety of sonar exposure from a neurological perspective, the vulnerability of the central nervous system to underwater exposure with high-intensity, low-frequency sound (HI-LFS) was experimentally examined. Physiological, behavioral and histological parameters were measured in anesthetized, ventilated rats exposed to brief (5 min), underwater HI-LFS. Exposure to 180 dB sound pressure level (SPL) re 1 μPa at 150 Hz (n = 9) did not alter acute cardiovascular physiology (arterial blood pH, pO2, pCO2, heart rate, or mean arterial blood pressure) from that found in controls (n = 11). Rats exposed to either 180 dB SPL re 1 μPa at 150 Hz (n = 12) or 194 dB SPL re 1 μPa at 250 Hz (n = 12) exhibited normal cognitive function at 8 and 9 days after sound exposure. Evaluation of neurological motor function revealed a minor deficit 7 days after 180 dB SPL/150 Hz exposure that resolved by 14 days, and no deficits after 194 dB SPL/250 Hz exposure. No overt histological damage was detected in any group. These data suggest that underwater HI-LFS exposure may cause transient, mild motor dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-973
Number of pages9
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Drs. Tracy K. McIntosh, Edward Cudahy, Susan Margulies, Mark Helfaer and Jonathan Lifshitz for helpful discussions. Additionally, they thank Dr. Shigeru Hoshino and Kristofer Feeko for exceptional technical assistance, Jessica A. Cheney for statistical assistance, and Jeanne Marks for help in the preparation of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research (grant N00014-97-1-0954).


  • Brain
  • Central nervous system
  • Cognition
  • Histology
  • Neurological motor function
  • Physiology
  • Rat
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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