Home Email this page Print this page Bookmark this page Decrease font size Default font size Increase font size
Noise & Health  
 Next article
 Previous article
Table of Contents

Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Citation Manager
Access Statistics
Reader Comments
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
 * Requires registration (Free)

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded223    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2001  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 13  |  Page : 51--70

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

School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Robert Hughes
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3YG
United Kingdom
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12678935

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

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.


Print this article     Email this article