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. . . .
Developing the acoustical power of spaces
Cai and associates investigated links between hearing road noise and obesity; their findings indicate the value of carefully managing the soundscapes in buildings near roads. The researchers determined, using data from nearly 500,000 adults in three European regions, that “Environmental stressors such as transport noise may contribute to development of obesity through increased levels of stress hormones, sleep deprivation and endocrine disruption. . . .
Research completed by Zhou, Wu, Meng, and Kang indicates that the acoustics in hospitals have a significant effect on stress experienced by patients. The researchers share that “Patients in general wards are often exposed to excessive levels of noise and activity, and high levels of noise have been associated with depression and anxiety.
Kolarik and colleagues investigated how perceptions of distances are influenced by impaired vision; their findings are particularly useful for the development of spaces that people with compromised vision are likely to use. The researchers determined that “Blindness leads to substantial enhancements in many auditory abilities, and deficits in others. . . . we show that greater severity of visual loss is associated with increased auditory judgments of distance and room size.
Wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, most of us are pulling acoustical information into our brains via our ears. Neuroscience research makes it clear that our responses to what we hear are not only complex and sometimes unexpected but also have important effects on our physical and psychological wellbeing, cognitive performance, and emotional state.
Weir reports on the findings of numerous studies that have established the psychological value of nature-based experiences.
Researchers have determined that what we hear influences our balance.
Pfeifer and Wittmann investigated how humans think when a space is silent.