The annoying sounds that bother us

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 25, 2017

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Remember that time when the sound of nail on the blackboard which that annoying boy in your class always produced had often irritated you, so much so that you contemplated getting into a fight? Now, a new study has decoded the reason behind our irksome response to the sounds that annoy some.


baby crying


Researchers found that the part of the brain, which regulates emotions, known as the amygdala, appears to take over that part of the brain which is responsible for hearing when people hear an annoying sound. Researcher Sukhbinder Kumar of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University in Newcastle, UK says that this signal from the amygdala to the auditory cortex is a possible distress signal. The result further shows that a heightened emotional response in the brain due to certain annoying sounds can change people’s perception of them.


The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to look at activity in the brains of 13 healthy volunteers as they heard a range of 74 different sounds.


The sounds were rated by the participants from most annoying or unpleasant to pleasant. Following was the result:


  • Knife on a bottle
  • Fork on a glass
  • Chalk on a blackboard
  • Ruler on a bottle
  • Nails on a blackboard
  • Female scream
  • Disc grinder
  • Squealing brakes on a bicycle
  • Baby crying
  • And electric drill


[Read: Understand your Newborn Baby Cries]


The least unpleasant sounds were found to be the following:


  • Applause
  • Baby laughing
  • Thunder
  • And water flowing


The study also shows that sounds in the higher-frequency range of around 2,000 to 5,000 Hz were rated as most unpleasant.


Image: Shutterstock

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