Radun and colleagues investigated the effects of impulsive sound on cognitive performance. They report that “Exposure to impulsive sound (65 dB LAeq) was compared with quiet sound (35 dB LAeq) and steady-state sound (65 dB LAeq). . . . Compared to quiet sound, impulsive sound caused more annoyance, workload, and lack of energy, raised cortisol concentrations, reduced systolic blood pressure, and decreased accuracy. . . . Compared with steady-state sound, impulsive sound was experienced as more annoying and causing a higher workload and more lack of energy.
Zeloni and Pavani report on sounds that humans link to sadness. They share that “In Western music and in music of other cultures, minor chords, modes and intervals evoke sadness. . . . we asked expert musicians to transcribe into music scores spontaneous vocalizations of pre-verbal infants to test the hypothesis that melodic intervals that evoke sadness in music (i.e., minor 2nd) are more represented in cry compared to neutral utterances. Results showed that the unison, major 2nd, minor 2nd, major 3rd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th and perfect 5th are all represented in infant vocalizations.
Soundscaping for security
A recent study confirms the negative health effects of noise exposure and supports the use of sound insulation. Avel Moreyra lead a study that determined that “People experiencing high levels of noise from cars, trains or planes were more likely to suffer a heart attack. . . . Patients were divided into those experiencing high levels of transportation noise (an average of 65 decibels or higher over the course of the day) and those with low noise exposure (a daily average of less than 50 decibels). A noise level of 65 decibels is similar to a loud conversation or laughter.
Encouraging healthy choices
Carlini and Bigand looked at relationships between sounds heard and the accuracy of estimations of how long an object being looked at moved. They report that “A visual moving target was presented to the participants, associated with a concurrent sound. . . . Nine different sound profiles were tested, from an easier constant sound to more variable and complex pitch profiles, always presented synchronously with motion.
Ratcliffe’s work confirms the value of nature soundtracks in particular contexts. She determined via a literature review that “nature is broadly characterized by the sounds of birdsong, wind, and water, and these sounds can enhance positive perceptions of natural environments presented through visual means. Second, isolated from other sensory modalities these sounds are often, although not always, positively affectively appraised and perceived as restorative.
Brill and Wang tie higher in-classroom noise levels to degraded ability to math test scores among students in grades 3, 5, 8, and 11.
Researchers continue to investigate the psychological implications of acoustic experiences.