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All,

 

Here is an interesting article highlighting research that suggests silence (no not necessarily meditation, just quiet time) is good for the brain and cognition. Here are a couple passages I found most interesting:

 

 A 2013 study [1] on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.
 
The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.
 
 
In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

 

The 2013 study referenced is [1]. Here is a quote from the abstract:

 

We used the standard noise level in the animal facility as baseline and 
compared this condition to white noise, pup calls, and silence. In addition, as
patterned auditory stimulus without ethological relevance to mice we used piano
music by Mozart (KV 448). All stimuli were transposed to the frequency range of
C57BL/6 and hearing was objectified with acoustic evoked potentials....
 
[A]fter 7 days, only silence remained associated with
increased numbers of [hippocampal] cells. Compared to controls at this stage,
exposure to silence had generated significantly increased numbers of
[hippocampal] neurons.

 

and again quoting from the popular press article:

 

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 
 
“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.
 
Apparently, silence may be golden when it comes to brain health.
 
--Dean
 
----------
[1] Brain Struct Funct. 2015 Mar;220(2):1221-8. doi: 10.1007/s00429-013-0679-3. Epub 
2013 Dec 1.
 
Is silence golden? Effects of auditory stimuli and their absence on adult
hippocampal neurogenesis.
 
Kirste I(1), Nicola Z, Kronenberg G, Walker TL, Liu RC, Kempermann G.
 
Author information: 
(1)CRTD, DFG Research Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, Fetscherstraße
105, 01307, Dresden, Germany.
 
We have previously hypothesized that the reason why physical activity increases
precursor cell proliferation in adult neurogenesis is that movement serves as
non-specific signal to evoke the alertness required to meet cognitive demands.
Thereby a pool of immature neurons is generated that are potentially recruitable 
by subsequent cognitive stimuli. Along these lines, we here tested whether
auditory stimuli might exert a similar non-specific effect on adult neurogenesis 
in mice. We used the standard noise level in the animal facility as baseline and 
compared this condition to white noise, pup calls, and silence. In addition, as
patterned auditory stimulus without ethological relevance to mice we used piano
music by Mozart (KV 448). All stimuli were transposed to the frequency range of
C57BL/6 and hearing was objectified with acoustic evoked potentials. We found
that except for white noise all stimuli, including silence, increased precursor
cell proliferation (assessed 24 h after labeling with bromodeoxyuridine, BrdU).
This could be explained by significant increases in BrdU-labeled Sox2-positive
cells (type-1/2a). But after 7 days, only silence remained associated with
increased numbers of BrdU-labeled cells. Compared to controls at this stage,
exposure to silence had generated significantly increased numbers of
BrdU/NeuN-labeled neurons. Our results indicate that the unnatural absence of
auditory input as well as spectrotemporally rich albeit ethological irrelevant
stimuli activate precursor cells-in the case of silence also leading to greater
numbers of newborn immature neurons-whereas ambient and unstructured background
auditory stimuli do not.
 
PMCID: PMC4087081
PMID: 24292324 

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Does this mean I have to hang out of my city-smudged window and yell at the streets below to finally shut the fuck up already?

 

Seriously, what is "silence"? Is that any relation to the Great Auk? Noise pollution is everywhere. Earplugs I wear, though, does that count?

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All I have to say is I know personally that this is TRUE! It's good to see some research backing up what I personally have experienced all my life.

 

what I find also interesting is that NATURE sound is generally very satisfying and refreshing. The wind, a thunderstorm, birds, the rustle of trees; whereas the machine noise of motorcycles, trucks, lawn tools etc. is not at all like NATURE's sounds. They are jarring and annoying. Evolution I suspect is at work here.

Edited by mikeccolella

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Agreed. Mike,

 

But "piano music by Mozart (KV 448)" https://ca.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hspart=avg&hsimp=yhs-fh_lsonsw&type=ch.49.xp.dsp.04-02.ca.avg._.0316avi&param1=NVDJTsMwEP0VLrHgkMgeO3Zy8IFCixAgIZa2V29pg8iCnQTK1zMIIY3ee5p5o1lc63WmrLpeqzXQMpeyglxIWOUVSJmvYLMBXqlNDSxTnrhuxAbKmTRLS7xmolRS1LVUlFLik77c3pB30x906EmHVimkF7ULyrJGKM8roFCVwgdaClFBkzfAS8aZAypqITw13lloGLV1UIY1THDrgg2c_A7-nGYyRt1EsmhRQFEVklbkao4x9NOjOYTXp3t9nKYx4yaDBqM7pWCiOxZmORRu6DA1oi8h_xfS-JXxJi5Txj3LQCaD7d6nEfUHqrE1_ZCB7ebUOmR7QngYvk2cUJzfbRHxlguk0zBPsw3kOcQlxNtr_bKC_P5yn-82ayZIO2qmfveuC3wDGZLetb0fPtPZ_pFYfXWMQxeIxdvqghIX9EucA3lLf-IH0&param2=browser_search_provider&param3=ch.49.xp.dsp.04-02.ca.avg._.0316avi&p=piano+music+by+Mozart+(KV+448)+youtubemight upset rodents.

 

Re the sounds of modern life, I met a lady a couple of years ago who suffered from such sounds to the point that she was kept up all night due to the sounds of a refrigerator compressor rooms away, and took to living in the hinterlands of eastern Oregon with no electricity at all.  She was also excited positively by such things as thunder having sound levels many decibels higher.  She suffered from a condition called https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperacusis.  Fellow sufferers included:

 

"Notable cases[edit]

 
Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from hyperacusis, alongside tinnitus and hearing loss.[8]
 
Musician Jason DiEmilio of Azusa Plane suffered from hyperacusis. His story was told in BuzzFeed. [9]
 
Musician Stephin Merritt suffers from monaural hyperacusis in his left ear, which influences the instrumentation of his band, The Magnetic Fields, and leads him to place his hand on the affected ear during audience applause.[10]
 
Chess legend Bobby Fischer is said to have had hyperacusis, and he needed total silence in order to concentrate on his games.
 
Franz Kafka suffered from hyperacusis and insomnia.[11]
 
American politician, LGBT activist, and film producer Michael Huffington has mild hyperacusis and underwent sound therapy after finding that running tap water caused ear pain.[12]"
 
All of which seemed to be ironic, since she was co-producing a musical play she hoped to have accepted for Broadway.

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