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. They report that “Three metrics describing the classroom acoustics, including the average daily A-weighted equivalent level for non-speech, the average daily difference between the A-weighted equivalent levels for speech and non-speech (a signal to noise ratio), and the mid-frequency averaged reverberation time, were analyzed against classroom-aggregated standardized reading and math achievement test scores, while controlling for classroom demographics inclu
Researchers continue to investigate the psychological implications of acoustic experiences. A team lead by Sierra-Polanco reports that “Three independent room acoustic parameters were considered: gain (alteration of the sidetone or playback of one’s own voice), reverberation time, and background noise. An increase in the sidetone led to a decrease in vocal sound pressure levels, thus increasing vocal comfort and vocal control. This effect was consistent in the different reverberation times considered.
Puglisi and colleagues studied the experiences of people working remotely and it seems likely that their findings can be applied more generally. The researchers report that data they collected via surveys completed by remote workers “show that 55% of the workers perform their activity in an isolated room of the home environment, 43% in a shared room (e.g., kitchen, living room), and 2% in an outdoor space, with the majority of workers (57%) performing activity without other people in the environment. . . .
Thinking more positive thoughts
De Fleurian and Pearce studied the implications of specific aspects of musical experiences and it seems likely that their findings can be extended to soundscaping generally. The researchers report that “Chills experienced in response to music listening have been linked to both happiness and sadness expressed by music. . . . we conducted a computational analysis on a corpus of 988 tracks previously reported to elicit chills, by comparing them with a control set of tracks matched by artist, duration, and popularity. We analysed track-level audio features . . .
Yang and colleagues studied how the noises that people hear in highway tunnels influences their driving performance; their findings are likely relevant in other contexts. The investigators report on a driving simulation-based assessment that they conducted: “Five different sound scenarios were tested: original highway tunnel sound and a mix of it with four other sounds (slow music [72 beats per minute], fast music [96 beats per minute], voice prompt [woman’s voice], and siren, respectively).
Sander and colleagues studied the effects of open plan offices on worker experiences, coupling self-reports and physiological measures: “Employing a simulated office setting, we compared the effects of a typical OPO [open-plan office] auditory environment to a quieter private office auditory environment on a range of objective and subjective measures of well-being and performance. . . . OPO noise . . .
Design influences the sounds that surround us in profound ways. Neuroscience research shows how design, and resulting acoustic experiences, information we pull into our brains via our ears, can boost mood, wellbeing (physical and psychological), and how well our brains do their jobs.