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.
Research conducted by Tarlao, Steffens, and Guastavino confirms the many factors can influence perceptions of sound being experienced besides the actual noises themselves. The team reports that “Previous soundscape research has shown a complex relationship between soundscapes, public space usage and contexts of users’ visits to the space. . . . The present study is a comparative analysis of in situquestionnaires collected over four study sites in Montreal . . . . in both French and English. . . . The analyses. . .. .
Research by Jin, Jin, and Kang confirms that there are complex interrelationships between our sensory experiences. The trio probed how hearing various sounds at different volumes influences perceived environmental temperatures. They determined via a lab-based study that “acoustic evaluations were significantly higher for birdsong and slow-dance music than for dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound. . . .
Walsh and de la Fuente assessed how people manage their at-home acoustic experiences and the repercussions of those actions. The researchers report that they “propose that home and homeliness [hominess] pertain to the degree to which we can control our auditory involvements with the world and with others. What we term ‘homely listening’ concerns the use of music to make oneself feel at home, in some cases, through seclusion and immersion, and, in others, through either the musical ordering of mundane routines or the use of music to engage in sociality with others. . . .
Weuve and teammates studied links between noise levels experienced at home and cognitive issues. The researchers report that “Participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (≥65 years) underwent triennial [every 3 years] cognitive assessments. For the 5 years preceding each assessment, we estimated 5227 participants’ residential level of noise from the community using a spatial prediction model, and estimated associations of noise level with prevalent mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD [Alzheimer’s disease], cognitive performance, and rate of cognitive decline.
Alamir and Hansen evaluated how experiencing particular sorts of sounds influences our response to food served. They determined that “Relaxing music increased the liking of food at 30 and 40 dBA by 60 and 38%, respectively. Restaurant noise and road traffic noise decreased the liking of food at all noise levels. The increase of noise levels [data were collected at 30, 40 and 50 dBA] decreased the liking of food for all noise types. . . . These results could also be helpful in choosing and designing dining areas with background noise that increase food enjoyment.
Cox and colleagues’ work sheds new light on Stonehenge’s design and indicates the power of acoustic experiences. The researchers determined that “this ancient monument in southern England created an acoustic space that amplified voices and improved the sound of any music being played for people standing within the massive circle of stones. . . .