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
Weir reports on the findings of numerous studies that have established the psychological value of nature-based experiences. The material related to experiencing nature while indoors have the widest applicability. Weir states, for example, that “Berman and colleagues found that study participants who listened to nature sounds like crickets chirping and waves crashing performed better on demanding cognitive tests than those who listed to other sounds like traffic and the clatter of a busy café. . . . .
Researchers have determined that what we hear influences our balance. The investigators report in a literature review published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck that “What people hear and do not hear can have a direct effect on their balance. . . . . ‘This study found that the sounds we hear affect our balance by giving us important information about the environment. . . . ‘ said senior author Maura Cosetti, MD. . . . people had more difficulty staying balanced or standing still on an uneven surface when it was quiet, but had better balance while listening to sounds. . . .
Pfeifer and Wittmann investigated how humans think when a space is silent. They report that “Research on the perception of silence has led to insights regarding its positive effects on individuals. We conducted a series of studies during which individuals were exposed to several minutes of silence in different contexts. Participants were introduced to different social and environmental settings, either in a seminar room at a university or in a city garden, alone or in a group. . .
McFarlane and colleagues have investigated, via an online survey, the sorts of sounds that alarms to wake people up can make and the repercussions of awakening to various sounds. Their findings are generally relevant to people working on creating sounds that alert listeners. The McFarlane-lead team reports that “Sleep inertia is a potentially dangerous reduction in human alertness and occurs 0–4 hours after waking. . . . The goal of this research is to understand how a particular sound or music chosen to assist waking may counteract sleep inertia. . .
The cognitive science research is clear – using natural elements (for example, materials, sounds,
Perceptions and realities
Samermit and colleagues have determined that pairing disliked sounds (such as “nails scratching a