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Do audible and ultrasonic sounds of intensities common in animal facilities affect the autonomic nervous system of rodents?

By A. K. Burwell, A. L. Baldwin

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In animal facilities, noises, often poorly controlled, occur over a wide range of frequencies and intensities. Evidence demonstrates that audible noise and ultrasound have deleterious effects on rodent physiology, but it is not known how they affect the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This study exposed 3 unrestrained, male, Sprague-Dawley rats daily to a 15-min white noise regime (90 dB), a quiet regime, or a 15-min ultrasound regime (90 dB at 4 frequencies in the range 20 to 40 kHz) - each for several weeks - and used radiotelemetry to monitor their cardiovascular responses. Exposure to audible noise increased heart rate and mean arterial pressure. Spectral analysis of HR variability showed diminished stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, shifting the sympathovagal balance. However, ultrasound, at the frequencies used, did not reproducibly affect cardiovascular parameters. The preliminary data obtained from this study indicate that audible noise, but not ultrasound (delivered using the same protocol), affects the ANS. Because the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and gastrointestinal systems are under autonomic control, such noise could have wide-ranging effects on animal physiology.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 9
Issue 3
Pages 179-199
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1207/s15327604jaws0903_1
Language English
Author Address Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85724,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal physiology
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Arteries
  6. Blood Pressure
  7. Cardiovascular health
  8. Heart
  9. Heart rate
  10. Laboratories
  11. Laboratory animal science
  12. Mammals
  13. nervous system
  14. Noise
  15. parasympathetic system
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. radiotelemetry
  18. Rats
  19. Rodents
  20. sounds
  21. telemetry
  22. Ultrasound
  23. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed