We live in an increasingly noisy world, and a new study says that background noise (which we don’t always notice) plays a major role in our unconscious learning and psychological health. The plane roaring overhead, our neighbor’s TV set, the person talking on a speakerphone–all these things affect us, and some people more sensitive to background noise than others.
In the December 4th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Ann Lukits reports that in a recent study, one group of 20 people were exposed to low-level noise of 36 decibels (normal conversation is 50 to 60 decibels). A second group was exposed to a moderate noise level of 45 decibels, while a third group exposed to 46 decibels, the sound of a plane approaching an airport.
When their memories were tested afterward, scores were higher in the first group than in the second and third groups. Aircraft noise seemed to be especially deleterious, perhaps because it has a wider spectrum and, coming from above, may trigger thoughts of an attack (especially in Veterans).
Meanwhile, loud "explosions" are being heard all around the world, and at present they’re taking place regularly in Massachusetts. Unlike most of our world’s noises, they are so far without explanation, and some suggest that there may be sinister overtones of some kind. (NOTE: Subscribers can now listen to ALL of these provocative shows)
On the Salem Patch website, Owen Boss reports that "Every couple of weeks, our Facebook and Twitter page will light up with messages from city residents who want to know what caused that earth-shattering sound in their neighborhood so late at night."
The ocean has become a noisy place too, due to the sonar blasts of military exercises, the booms from air guns used in oil and gas exploration, and the noise from commercial ships. This noise is especially dangerous to whales, which use their acute hearing to food and communicate with each other.
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