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The intrusiveness of sound: Laboratory findings and their implications for noise abatement

Hughes, Robert Wyn and Jones, Dylan Marc ORCID: 2001. The intrusiveness of sound: Laboratory findings and their implications for noise abatement. Noise & Health 4 (13) , pp. 51-70.

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Environmental policy with regard to noise abatement has traditionally only considered whether the noise levels in a given setting are high enough to be deemed a source of annoyance, disturbance, or threat to well being. However, laboratory studies using both simple and more complex work-related tasks have shown that task-irrelevant sound, regardless of its intensity, intrudes upon cognitive processing and disrupts performance substantially; furthermore, its damaging effect does not diminish with repeated exposure to the sound over time. For tasks that require short-term memory processing (particularly the short-term maintenance of order information) sound assumes disruptive power if it is acoustically varying over its time course. However, other properties of sound (e.g., the semanticity of speech) can incur an additional cost if the primary task necessitates or tends to evoke the extraction of meaning. It will be argued that interference in each case is explained by reference to a conflict between two concurrent mental processes; that being demanded by the task and that being involuntarily applied to properties of the sound. Such harmful effects, as well as having direct consequences for the general well-being of those working in noisy environments, may have far reaching consequences for health insofar as extraneous sound is a feature of many safety-critical work settings. Implications for noise abatement policy are highlighted.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: auditory attention, auditory distraction, irrelevant sound, disruption, cognitive processing, safety-critical settings, noise abatement
Publisher: MedKnow
ISSN: 1463-1741
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 09:09

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