It is no coincidence that the crackling of a fire makes us feel safe, but a loud scream can make us instantly alert in just a fraction of a second. The proper interpretation of sounds in our environment and the resulting instinctive response is a key factor of survival in human evolution.
Our ears – unlike our eyes – cannot be closed. Our hearing perceives all noises in our environment at all times, even when we are deep asleep. Our brain only allows the sounds to reach our consciousness if they signal danger and thus require a reaction. This is why we continue to sleep while birds chirp or train rumbles past in the distance. However, if a scream or a crash break through the nighttime silence, we are wide awake within seconds and our heart beats fast and loud – we bolt upright and are ready for action with our vital fight or flight reaction.
Alarming The human scream automatically triggers strong emotions and instinctive reactions in us. These important alarm properties work thanks to a unique modulation of the scream, which scientists describe as <<roughness>>.
Relaxing The comforting crackling of a fire blazing in the grate or a campfire gives us an immediate sense of cosiness and security. This is a reflex we have inherited from our stone-age ancestors, for whom sitting around the fire represented the very epitome of security and safety.
Healing The positive effect of sounds and music is so strong that it can be used for therapeutic purposes. Thousands of years ago, the shamans were aware of this, and still today, a whole range of therapy forms use the power of sound and music.
Hair-raising The notorious sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard makes our blood freeze in our veins. But why? The screeching sound is a similar modulation to a human scream, which is why it gets under our skin.
Improved productivity Nowadays, we know that pleasant sounds are not only good for relaxation, but can also be used to improve our productivity. So the sound of soft rainfall or burbling of water has a positive effect on our ability to concentrate. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you!