UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Mercede Erfanian

Soundscape indices: The psychophysiological implications

Funded as part of the ERC Advanced Grant for Soundscape Indices (SSID)

The ever-growing noise pollution problem has many different adverse and irreversible causes and to address this problem it is of the utmost importance to comprehend how sound and humans interact, known as ‘soundscape’.  The soundscape is best described as the human’s perception of environmental sounds in context, and the accompanying physiological and emotional experiences. An emerging body of inter-disciplinary research elucidated the impact of the sonic environment on humans’ nervous system functionality and structure, manifesting as psychological and physical health issues. However, the explicit peripheral and central psychophysiological mechanisms underlying this impact is far from understood. Soundscape elements at the unconscious level can manifest in alterations of individuals’ behavior, cognition, and emotion; the aim of this study, therefore, is to shed light on the impact of soundscapes at the unconscious level by measuring the physiological responses and perceptual attributes during exposure to nature, human, and urban sounds. The physiological responses such as heart rate, electrodermal activity, and electrical activity of the brain will be quantified by electrocardiogram, skin conductance response, and electroencephalogram respectively. Overall, understanding the perception of the acoustic environment at the unconscious level may create a more beneficial foundation for urban sound-related problems, leading to a robust impact on urban policy-making.