Noise sensitive individuals are
more prone to negative effects of noise on health, such as sleep
disturbance and heart diseases, and that sensitivity to noise may be
rooted to one's genetic profile, suggested previous studies.
In the newly published work a window into the brain mechanisms
associated with noise sensitivity, researchers from the University of
Helsinki and Aarhus University addressed whether noise sensitivity is
manifested in the way the brain processes sounds.
‘The auditory system of noise sensitive individuals is less responsive to new sound features introduced among repetitive sounds, especially if the novel sound is noisier than the rest.’
They showed that the auditory system of noise sensitive individuals
is less responsive to new sound features introduced among repetitive
sounds, especially if the novel sound is noisier than the rest.
Seeming counterintuitive at first, this finding suggests that it may
be harder for sensitive people to build a prediction about changes in a
varying soundscape, and their auditory system might "tune down" its
responsiveness to sounds in order to protect itself from overreacting to
"We need further studies to conclude whether we've discovered
something that is the reason why people are noise sensitive or is it the
result of the brain's contractions against excessive noise.
Nevertheless, this study advances the view on noise sensitivity being
more than just a negative attitude to sounds and brings us new
information on the physiology of environmental sensitivity," says the
first author of the study, doctoral student Marina Kliuchko from the
University of Helsinki.
The contribution of this study crosses boundaries of the brain
science and reaches to public and occupational healthcare. The
researchers hope that their work will highlight that noise sensitivity
is an important issue to be recognized in planning noise control in
living and working environments.