Amplitude modulation of audible sounds by non-audible sounds: Understanding the effects of wind turbine noise

Jeffery Lichtenhan, Alec Salt

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Our research has suggested a number of mechanisms by which low-frequency noise could bother individuals living near wind turbines: causing endolymphatic hydrops, exciting subconscious pathways, and amplitude modulation of audible sounds. Here we focus on the latter mechanism, amplitude modulation. We measured single-auditory-nerve fiber responses to probe tones at their characteristic frequency in cats. A 50 Hz tone, which did not cause an increase in spontaneous firing rate (i.e., was not audible to the fiber when presented alone) was used to amplitude modulate responses to the probe tone. We found that as probe frequency decreased, a lower level of the low-frequency non-audible tone was needed to achieve criterion amplitude modulation. In other words, low-frequencies that are coded in the cochlear apex require less low-frequency sound pressure level to be amplitude modulated as compared to higher-frequencies that are coded in the cochlear base. This finding was validated, and extended to lower frequencies, by amplitude modulating gross measures of onset-synchronous (compound action potentials) and phase-synchronous (auditory nerve overlapped waveforms) in guinea pigs. Our results suggest that that infrasound generated by wind turbines may cause amplitude modulation of audible sounds, which is often the basis for complaints from those living near wind turbines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number040064
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
StatePublished - 2013
Event21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: Jun 2 2013Jun 7 2013


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