Neural Correlates of Noise Annoyance and Sensitivity

Jenny S.Y. Lee , Michael J. Hautus , Daniel Shepherd

New Zealand Acoustics, 25(4), pp.4- 11 . (2012).

The relationship between noise and affective response is not well understood, and there have been calls for further physiological investigation. To investigate subjective responses to noise, an attempt is made here to analyze the auto-correlation function of alpha activity during the presentation of annoying sounds. Twelve real-world sounds (e.g. baby’s cry, snoring) were presented to a small sample (n = 16), who listened while having their scalp potentials recorded. Noise sensitivity questionnaires were used to assess participants’ sensitivity to noise in general. Findings indicate that those who are noise sensitive appear easily aroused by noise regardless of the magnitude of annoyance. In contrast, participants who classified as noise resistant are typically aroused only when the most annoying sounds are presented. Theses result suggests a difference in processing between the noise sensitive and the noise resistant individuals. The current investigation may provide a basis for future studies to evaluate the underlying neural processes associated with noise annoyance.