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Wednesday 26th June 2019

The 10 most annoying sounds

15th October 2012

The results of a study carried out by British researchers has shown certain noises provoke a "primitive" response.


The research, carried out by a team at Newcastle University, showed that activity in the amygdala - the area of the brain which controls emotions - increased when people hear an annoying sound.

The team used MRI scans to examine the activity in the brains of 13 participants, who were played 74 different sounds and asked to rate them in order of the most irritating to the most pleasant.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found the most irritating sounds were a knife on a bottle, a fork on glass, chalk on a blackboard, a ruler on a bottle, nails on a blackboard, a woman's scream, a disc grinder, squealing brakes, a baby crying and an electric drill.

Researcher Sukhbinder Kumar of the Institute of Neuroscience at the university said: "It appears there is something very primitive kicking in. It’s a possible distress signal from the amygdala to the auditory cortex."

The least annoying noises included applause, a baby's laughter, thunder and the sound of running water.

Researcher Tim Griffiths said: "This work sheds new light on the interaction of the amygdala and the auditory cortex. This might be a new inroad into emotional disorders and disorders like tinnitus and migraine in which there seems to be heightened perception of the unpleasant aspects of sounds." 


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