Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2015, page 2

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Lingle and Riede's study is one of the first to show that wild mammals respond instinctively to the calls of other species, says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University in Pullman. "They're showing that these deer can perceive the emotional content of another animal's separation call," he says. The work supports the idea that certain acoustic elements are associated with particular emotions across species, suggesting that different animals may experi­ence similar emotional states.

This article appeared in print under the headline "Baby mammals share the same cry" Source of article

Elephants Predict Rain from 300 Kilometres Away

Copyright Greg Willis

Elephants in Namibia possibly listen for the rain.

Low frequency hearing allows elephants to detect thunderstorms over very long distances. We know that elephants have big ears for a reason: they have incredible hearing to go along with their well­ documented communication skills. But a new study by Dr. Michael Garstand, a Professor of Meteorology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, found that their ability to detect sound is even more amazing than previously thought. Elephants communicate using frequencies


much lower than what humans can hear their low range is between 20 and 10 cycles per second. Turning anecdotal evidence from tribesmen in Namibia into scientific fact, researchers found that elephants can hear the low frequency of thun­derstorms from as far away as 300 kilometres. The ele­phants then move from dry areas to places where the rains will come and provide fresh vegetation. This ex­plains sudden migrations and behavioural changes that have been observed over the years.

CBC link



Working in an office is bad for your brain

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, 07 Aug 2011

Working in an office is bad for your brain and can make you less productive, according to researchers.

A study has found that the hustle and bustle of modern offices can lead to a 32% drop in workers well being and reduce their productivity by 15%. They have found that open plan offices create unwanted activity in the brains of workers that can get in the way of them doing the task at hand. Open plan offices were first introduced in the 1950s and quickly became a popular way of laying out offices. Having a clean and sterile desk can also leave employ­ees with smaller brains, scientists claim. The findings are revealed in a programme made for Channel 4, The Se­cret Life of Buildings.

In the television programme, however, a test carried out with presenter and architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff using a cap that measured his brain waves while trying to work in an open plan office revealed intense bursts of distraction. Dr. Jack Lewis, a neuroscientist who conducted the test, said: "Open plan offices were designed with the idea that people can move around and interact freely to pro­mote creative thinking and better problem solving. "But it doesn't work like that. If you are just getting into some work and a phone goes off in the background, it ruins what you are concentrating on. Even though you are not aware at the time, the brain responds to distractions."


Modern offices which refuse to allow personal decora­tions on walls or desks may also not be helping employees. Dr. Craig Knight, a psychologist at Exeter University said that allowing employees to personalise their working area could improve their performance in the office. He said: "Companies like the idea of giving their employees a lean space to work in as it is uniform and without un­necessary distractions. "In the experiments we have run, however, employees respond better in spaces that have been enriched with pictures and plants. If they have been allowed to enrich the space themselves with their own things it can increase their well being by 32% and their productivity by 15%. It is because they are able to engage with their surroundings, feel more comfortable and so concentrate."

Professor Fred Gage, from the laboratory of genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, has also conducted studies by comparing the brains of mice kept in bare, clean cages with those kept in more stimulating environments. He said: "In the period of a month we saw the brains of the mice kept in stimulating environments increase in volume by 15%. The area is highly enriched with blood vessels and we see new neurons being born.
"If we can extrapolate that to humans then it shows that having a stimulating environment can optimise our performance and abilities."

Source of article


Peltor (brand) "Ultimate 10" ear muffles, together with a pair of comfortable "memory sponge" ear plugs (I use "Hearos" brand), I use to my satisfaction. I've so far been able to escape all the noises which have come my way. ­ Craig D.



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