Birdsong could help prevent mental disorders

A study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Tübingen (Germany) has investigated the influence of birdsong on mood, paranoia and cognition, and has concluded that its sound is good for mental health. In search, the researchers examined how the noise of the traffic and birdsong affect mood through a randomized online experiment with 295 participants. All of them listened to six minutes of the typical noise of passing vehicles and another six minutes of birdsong, with sound variables.

Before and after listening to the sound clips, the participants completed questionnaires to assess their mental health and were subjected to cognitive tests. "Everyone has certain psychological dispositions. Healthy people can also experience anxious thoughts or temporary paranoid perceptions. The questionnaires allowed us to identify the tendencies of people without a diagnosis of depression, anxiety and paranoia and to investigate the effect of these sounds ", explained one of its authors emil stöbbeof the Lise Meitnerde Group of Environmental Neuroscience of the Max Planck Institute.

The research, published in the prestigious journal Naturehas suggested that listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. Likewise, his sound did not seem to influence depressive states in that experiment. However, traffic noise generally did worsen depressive states, especially if the audio clip included many different types of traffic sounds.

The positive influence of birdsong on mood was already known, but to the authors' knowledge, this study is the first to reveal an effect on paranoid states. Researchers have also found that neither the sound of birds nor traffic noise influence cognitive performance. The explanation for these effects, experts say, is that birdsong is a subtle indication of an untouched natural environment, something that draws attention away from stressors that might otherwise indicate emotional threat. Taken together, the results have suggested interesting avenues for future research and applications, such as the active manipulation of background noise in different situations or the examination of its influence in patients with diagnosed anxiety disorders or paranoia.

"Birdsong could be applied to prevent mental disorders. Listening to an audio would be a simple and easily accessible intervention. If we have been able to demonstrate its effect through a computer, we imagine that the benefits are even stronger outdoors," said Stobbe, who studies the effects of the physical environment on the individual. "Recently, we have been able to do a study that shows that an hour's walk in nature reduces brain activity associated with stress"added the director of the research group, simone kuhn. Even so, the researcher lamented that "we still cannot say which characteristics of nature (smells, sounds, colors or a combination of them) are responsible for this effect", but at the same time she welcomed the study they have presented the women clues to continue the investigation.

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