Talebzadeh’s recent research indicates the important role that soundscapes play in our lives. His work focused on “how a personalized soundscape can help those with dementia by providing clues regarding time of day and place. . . . Using a system called AcustiCare, a personalized soundscape is created with a customized algorithm that plays scheduled sounds at specific moments throughout the day. Through feedback, the system can refine the sounds to be played the next day, helping to reinforce time and space for dementia patients.
Bourikas and colleagues report interesting relationships between perceptions of various aspects of office environments. Their work indicates that “bad air quality is generally associated with a ‘warm’ thermal sensation response. . . . air quality . . . and noise perception (NSV) are both correlated with thermal perception (TSV). . . . Air quality perception was correlated with both TSV and NSV.. . .
Hong and teammates studied adding nature sounds to outdoor spaces. Study participants wore a mixed-reality head-mounted display and saw a hologram of either a sparrow or a fountain or a loudspeaker while hearing birdsong or a stream. The researchers determined via data collected outdoors, near an expressway, that “both natural sounds significantly reduced the PLN [perceived loudness of the traffic noise] and enhanced the OSQ [overall sound quality]. . . . Analysis on the preferred signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), i.e.
Buxton and colleagues reviewed published studies on the implications of hearing nature sounds. They determined that “natural sounds improve health, increase positive affect [mood], and lower stress and annoyance. . . . Our review showed that natural sounds alone can confer health benefits. . . . water sounds had the largest effect on health and positive affective outcomes, while bird sounds had the largest effect on alleviating stress and annoyance.”
Intriguing relationships identified
Radicchi lead a team probing the psychological implications of urban soundscapes. The group found that “At an international level it is recognised that urban noise has serious and negative public health impacts. . . . Urban designers and planners. . . . need an awareness of the immaterial cultural heritage of place – cultural events, festivals, sound marks and oral traditions, when dealing with the protection and renewal of the historical city. . . .
Sophisticated test of multiple conditions
Hou and colleagues studied brain synchronization between musicians and people listening to their music; potential applications of their findings in other contexts are intriguing. The researchers report that they “used dual near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to assess whether inter-brain synchronization between violinist and audience underlies the popularity of violin performance. In the experiment, individual audience members . . . watched pre-recorded videos, each lasting 100 s or so, in which a violinist performed 12 musical pieces.
Saunders and colleagues report that wearing facemasks impedes communication; design may, via whiteboards, new signage, etc., partially compensate for this impairment. As the Sanders team reports, “An online survey consisting of closed-set and open-ended questions [was] distributed within the UK to gain insights into experiences of interactions involving face coverings, and of the impact of face coverings on communication. . . . With few exceptions, participants reported that face coverings negatively impacted hearing, understanding, engagement, and feelings of connection with the speaker.