USAARL is a - U.S. Army Medical Department - Medical Research Materiel Command Subordinate Command
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Sensory Research Division
Acoustics Research Branch

The Sensory Research Division maintains a unique capability in acoustics research. The objectives of the S&T capability are to conduct research to improve the operational capabilities of Army aviation, mounted, and ground forces by predicting and reducing hazards from excessive exposure to noise and to improve the safety and mission capabilities of Army personnel by improving the auditory displays and communications systems utilized in military aircraft and ground vehicles.


Research Programs
  Hearing Hazards in Army Operations to top

This program investigates and evaluates hazards to hearing in the Army operational environment. Principally, this includes noise in rotary-wing and mounted environments but also includes impulse noise hazards for mounted and dismounted warfighters. Furthermore, while the most common hazard to hearing is high-level continuous and impulse noise, other hazards may include ototraumatic and ototoxic agents such as inhalants, disease, and drugs. Recent projects have included the evaluation of noise hazards in the U.S. Army vertical wind tunnel, which is used to train HALO (high altitude-low opening) jumpers.


  Hearing Protection and Enhancement for the Warfighter to top

This program focuses on traditional and advanced technologies and systems to enhance hearing while protecting the vital survival sense of hearing in the combat environment. Recent projects included measurement of hearing protection systems using American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard methods for tactical environments and pharmacological strategies for the prevention and treatment of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus (e.g., the effects of N-acetylcysteine on acoustic thresholds and otoacoustic emissions following noise exposure and two TRL 5 compounds on cochlear mechanics).


  Auditory Performance in Army Tactical Environments to top

This program encompasses research on human auditory performance, typically in noise, by normal and hearing-impaired listeners. The objective is to enhance the safety and operational mission capabilities of warfighters by evaluating new auditory display technologies for use by hearing-impaired listeners. Additionally, this program aims to provide developers with medically based design criteria to ensure effective display use by Army aviators operating in noisy environments. Other projects include throat- and bone-conduction microphone technologies and a stethoscope that can be used in the high-noise Army rotary-wing environment.


  Bioacoustics and Noise Standards to top

The program emphasizes collaborative work in conjunction with the Acoustical Society of America’s standards working groups on acoustical hazards and hearing protection measurement methods. Acoustic Science Branch personnel serve on several standards working groups. The current ANSI method for testing the effectiveness of hearing protective devices was developed with participation by USAARL investigators. The Acoustics Science Branch is engaged in a multi-laboratory, multi-national research program that will result in the next revision of this standard (ANSI S12.6)