How listening to the sounds of nature is good for you

THE 16 months or so of the pandemic has allowed nature breath a little easier, with so much less air pollution and less noise what with aircraft and other modes of transport curtailed.
Have you ever found yourself in a meditative state. Strolling in the county-side of by the sea, listening to the calming sounds of nature, only to have an aircraft pass by overhead? And getting your hackles up?
Man-made noises like that of a low-sounding jet can interfere with your overall experience out in Nature and cause what scientists call ‘hyper-arousal’, affecting your behaviour, physiology, and overall fitness.
Additionally, jarring noises can lead to high blood pressure and other ailments, says the latest research. These negative effects are also true for animals — their ability to communicate, survey their environment, and find food and mates is affected by ongoing noise pollution.
A growing number of studies explore noise’s negative effects on animals and humans alike, but could the same be true for the opposite? Could natural sounds actually have a positive impact?
A group of researchers from Michigan State University, Carleton University, and Colorado State University partnered with the National Park Service in the US to analyse 18 studies on how natural sounds can impact human health.
Their results, published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, show that listening to existing noises in nature, its natural sounds, has incredibly positive effects, including a decrease in stress and pain, an improvement in cognitive performance, an enhancement in mood, and much more. The research even goes into further detail outlining which particular sounds might bring about specific benefits.
Why we have such a positive response to certain natural sounds isn’t completely clear, but researchers have their theories.
To explore the possible health benefits of natural sounds, the team studied more than 10 years’ worth of studies conducted around the world.
Researchers found that activity in the brain’s default mode network differed in listening to natural sounds versus man-made sounds.
Natural sounds resulted in outward focus of attention, whereas man-made sounds evoked an inward focus of attention—a pattern linked to stress.

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