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Conference_programme: 10: Health effects of sound

Lecture: Studying the origins of noise sensitivity – negative affect or biological factors

Author(s): Heinonen-Guzejev Marja, Kliuchko Marina, Vuust Peter, Tervaniemi Mari, Brattico Elvira, Shepherd Daniel , Dirks Kim N. , Hautus Michael J. , Welch David , Mcbride David

Noise sensitivity (NS) is currently well described but its etiology has not been sufficiently explained. Noise sensitive individuals are more likely to attend to sound and evaluate it negatively, perceive it as annoying, have stronger emotional reactions to sound and, greater difficulty habituating to sounds. NS describes a vulnerability to negative health effects associated with noise exposure. In this paper, we review our most recent studies with respect to the origins of NS. The most common explanation has been that NS reflects negative affectivity, a dispositional tendency to negatively evaluate situations and the self. However, results from the study of Shepherd et al. (2015) failed to support the notion that, by itself, negative affectivity explains sensitivity to noise. There are explanations of NS which are based on cognitive processes by which noise-induced memory and attentional deficits are leading to annoyance or distress. NS has also been attributed to hypervigilance to noise sources due to fear and anxiety which have a large impact on annoyance. More recent studies have shown evidence of a neural mechanism of NS. The study of Kliuchko et al. (2016), using magneto- and electroencephalography (MEG/EEG), suggests biological origins for NS. NS was specifically related to neural mechanisms for processing of noise, but not to other features of sound. Thus NS has its origins in primary auditory functions of the central nervous system. A study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by Kliuchko et al. (2017) found that individual differences in NS seem to be associated with the structural organization of the brain areas playing a role in auditory perception, interoception, as well as processing of emotion and salience. Thus, the findings of the recent studies provide evidence of biological origins and a neural mechanism for NS.

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Corresponding author

Name: Dr Marja Heinonen-Guzejev

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Country: Finland