Listen! Birdsong Is Good for Mental Health – Neuroscience News

Summary: Listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia, a new study reports.

Font: Max Planck Institute

In the study, researchers examined how traffic noise and birdsong affect mood, paranoia, and cognitive functioning by conducting a randomized online experiment with 295 participants.

They listened to six minutes of typical traffic noise or birdsong with a variable number of different traffic sounds or birdsongs. Before and after listening to the sound clips, the participants completed questionnaires to assess their mental health and took cognitive tests.

“Everyone has certain psychological dispositions. Healthy people may also experience anxious thoughts or temporary paranoid perceptions. The questionnaires allow us to identify the tendencies of people without a diagnosis of depression, anxiety and paranoia and to investigate the effect of the sounds of birds or traffic on these tendencies”, says first author Emil Stobbe, predoctoral fellow at the Lise Meitner Group. Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

The present study suggests that listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. Birdsong did not seem to influence depressive states in this experiment. However, traffic noise generally worsened depressive states, especially if the audio clip included many different types of traffic sounds.

The positive influence of birdsong on mood is already known, but to the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to reveal an effect on paranoid states. This was independent of whether the birdsong came from two or more different bird species.

The researchers also found that neither birdsong nor traffic noise influenced cognitive performance.

  Diet Can Influence Mood, Behavior and More - Neuroscience News

In the researchers’ opinion, the explanation for these effects is that birdsong is a subtle indication of an untouched natural environment, drawing attention away from stressors that might otherwise indicate an acute threat.

Taken together, the results suggest interesting avenues for future research and applications, such as actively manipulating background noise in different situations or examining its influence in patients with diagnosed anxiety or paranoia disorders.

The present study suggests that listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. The image is in the public domain

“Birdsong could also be applied to prevent mental disorders. Listening to an audio CD would be a simple and easily accessible intervention. But if we could already show such effects in an online experiment conducted by participants on a computer, we can assume that these are even stronger outdoors in nature,” says Stobbe.

She is a member of the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, which studies the effects of the physical environment on the individual.

“We were recently able to conduct a study showing that a one-hour walk in nature reduces brain activity associated with stress,” adds the head of the research group, Simone Kühn.

“We still can’t say which features of nature — smells, sounds, colors, or a combination of them — are responsible for the effect. The present study provides an additional component to clarify this problem”, continues Kühn. What is clear is that nature improves mental health and well-being. So off we go!

About this mental health research news

Author: nicole siller
Font: Max Planck Institute
Contact: Nicole Siller – Max Planck Institute
Image: The image is in the public domain.

  SC to examine if refusal to acknowledge alleged mental disorder can be ground for divorce

original research: Open access.
Birdsong relieves anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants” by Emil Stobbe et al. scientific reports


See also

This shows a girl sharing some flowers with her younger brother.

Birdsong relieves anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants

The present study investigated the effect of urban (traffic noise) versus natural (birdsong) soundscapes on mood, state paranoia, and cognitive performance, with the hypothesis that birdsong leads to to significant improvements in these results.

An additional goal was to explore the differential impact of lower versus higher diversity of soundscapes by manipulating the number of different typical traffic sounds or songs of different bird species within the respective soundscapes.

In a randomized online experiment, N = 295 participants were exposed to one of four conditions for 6 minutes: low traffic noise, loud traffic noise, low birdsong, and birdsong with highly diverse soundscapes.

Before and after exposure, participants performed a digit-span and dual n-back task, and completed depression, anxiety, and paranoia questionnaires. Traffic noise soundscapes were associated with significantly increased depression (small effect size under low conditions, medium effect size under high diversity conditions).

Regarding bird song conditions, depression decreased exclusively after exposure to the high-diversity soundscape (small effect size). Anxiety and paranoia were significantly decreased in both bird song conditions (medium effect sizes).

For cognition, no effects were observed. In summary, the present study suggests that listening to birdsong regardless of diversity improves anxiety, while traffic noise, also regardless of diversity, is associated with greater depression. In addition, for the first time, the beneficial effects of medium-sized soundscapes of birdsong, reducing paranoia, were demonstrated.

  Aastha Shah on Her Skin Condition Vitiligo, 'Back Then... | EXCLUSIVE

Overall, the results have interesting implications for future research, such as the active manipulation of soundscapes in different settings or settings (for example, psychiatric wards) and testing their effect on subclinical or even clinical manifestations of anxiety and paranoia.

Leave a Comment