Dec 04 2011


Affects of sound on the human brain

Posted at 9:49 am under Uncategorized

A Ted Talks by Julian Treasure outlines the 4 ways the sounds affects us. The interactive talk shows how our brain is negatively affected by distracting sounds, and positively affected by southing sounds such as birds chirping. The first way the brain can be affected by sound is physiologically. Loud sounds give off a shot of coristol, the fright hormone. Sounds affect our hormones all the time, but also our breathing, our heart rate, and our brainwaves. The brain can also be positively affected physiologically, by for example, listening to pleasing sounds. The second way in which sound affects us is psychological. Music is the most powerful form of sound that can affect our emotional state. The third way that we are affected is cognitively. It’s hard to understand two people speaking at once, as you have to focus on one of the two speakers. We have a very small amount of bandwidth for processing auditory input, which is why distracting noises are so damaging for our productivity. The fourth an final way sound affects us is behaviorally. At the simplest, you move away from unpleasant sounds, and towards pleasant sounds.

Upon finding this Ted Talks, I was interested in seeing how these effects reacted in our everyday life. A study done by the Department of Educational Technology proves how background music affects our learning. “Common sense tells us, and research has confirmed, that loud, cacophonous background noise impedes learning, concentration, and information acquisition” (Levi). However some music in school, or home environments may aid productivity. The difficulty is concluding how much music one should have, as behaviors in each person differ. This study affected me greatly as a person because of my work habits. While finishing tasks I listen to loud, and upbeat music, which according to the conclusions reached in the experiments may slow down productivity. Through deductive reasoning, the research proved that background music was perceived as having a slightly enhancing effect on performance on paper-and-pencil assignments. Televisions drama series, on the other hand, and loud music would heavily hinder productivity, and overall work ethics. It cannot be forgotten that these studies do not apply to everyone, as circumstances change, and behaviors affect each individual differently. In our technologically active community it is important to know the effects of sound to our brains, as we are all guilty of listening to extremely loud music for long periods of time.

Finding out about how sound was affecting my study habits and me not only through communication, leisure, I ran into music therapy and its aid on autistic children. A study lead by Alex deMarigny, tested autistic children’s ability to learn common phrases through sound. The research concluded that the group who used song to learn vocabulary was almost twice more effective. Low and high functioning children were able to memorize words, and utilize them in situations. Also, from learning through music their emotions were altered, and the children were overall more engaged and entertained. The music helped them, but since they were children, it made learning fun. It is important to note that not all children reacted positively to the learning strategies, as autism is an unpredictable mental condition, therefore results are based on the overall effects.

As a learner, it is incredible to see how much sound affects us, and where it leads us everyday. I had never considered how hindered I could be without sounds, or helped by positive sounds. Sounds affect our communication, but also our productivity. So in the last couple of months of school I will keep all that I have learned in mind, and become a more productive learner, stabilizing how I use my brain, for the highest possible efficiency.

Works Cited

DeMarigny, Alex. “Music Therapy and Speech Production for Children with Autism.”Cognition & the Arts. 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2011. <>.

Levi, Yiftach. “Effect of Music on Learning: Davidson & Powell, 1986 = Easy Listening, Increase in On-task Performance for Males and Whole Class, Insignificant for Fem.” Please Note the Change of Address! Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <>.

Treasure, Julian. “Julian Treasure: The 4 Ways Sound Affects Us | Video on”TED: Ideas worth Spreading. Oct. 2009. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <>.

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