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The following publications are directly linked to the projects EMRP HLT01 Ears and EMPIR 15HLT03 Ears II:

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A longitudinal, randomized experimental pilot study to investigate the effects of airborne ultrasound on human mental health, cognition, and brain structure. In: Sci Rep 11 (1), S. 5814. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-83527-z.

Author(s):Leonie Ascone, Christoph Kling, J. Wieczorek, Christian Koch, Simone Kühn
Abstract:Ultrasound-(US) emitting sources are highly present in modern human environments (e.g., movement sensors, electric transformers). US affecting humans or even posing a health hazard remains understudied. Hence, ultrasonic (22.4 kHz) vs. sham devices were installed in participants' bedrooms, and active for 28 nights. Somatic and psychiatric symptoms, sound-sensitivity, sleep quality, executive function, and structural MRI were assessed pre-post. Somatization (possible nocebo) and phasic alertness increased significantly in sham, accuracy in a flexibility task decreased significantly in the verum condition (indicating hastier responses). Effects were not sustained after p-level adjustment. Exploratory voxel-based morphometry (VBM) revealed regional grey matter (rGMV) but no regional white matter volume changes in verum (relative to placebo). rGMV increased in bilateral cerebellum VIIb/Crus II and anterior cingulate (BA24). There were rGMV decreases in two bilateral frontal clusters: in the middle frontal gyri/opercular part of inferior frontal gyrus (BA46, 44), and the superior frontal gyri (BA4 ,6, 8). No brain-behavior-links were identified. Given the overall pattern of results, it is suggested that ultrasound may particularly induce regional gray matter decline in frontal areas, however with yet unclear behavioral consequences. Given the localization of clusters, candidate behavioral variables for follow-up investigation are complex motor control/coordination, stress regulation, speech processing, and inhibition tasks.Trial registration: The trial was registered at NIH , trial identifier: NCT03459183, trial name: SonicBrain01, full trial protocol available here: In: Sci Rep 11 (1), S. 5814. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-83527-z.

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