Science says silence is much more important to our brains than we think, according to lifehack.org
(Science also says that dogs’ brains are also a lot more similar to our own than we think).
In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’.
As Rebecca Beris in lifehack.org says, ‘Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.’
Continuing to quote: ‘A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising.
It seems silence can quite literally grow your brain. It is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence.
Beris also says, ‘Silence relieves stress and tension. It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones.
If you live in a consistently noisy environment then you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.‘
Dogs! What about our dogs? Few dogs nowadays are not constantly surrounded by noise including those electronic sounds at high frequencies we can’t ourselves hear.
I would say the great majority of people I go to have their TVs on when I arrive. Many people have TV on all the time they are at home. A good number I have to ask to turn their TV off because it affects my concentration (and theirs also).
Often people tell me that I’m not seeing the ‘real dog’ because he’s so much calmer. Is it too great a leap of the imagination to suggest it’s simply because the TV is turned off?
On a number of occasions my clients have said that their very agitated dogs are more peaceful when they are out (they have filmed them). I had assumed this was something to do with the presence of their humans arousing them, but could it be the noise that comes along with their humans instead?
Beris, writing about humans, continues, ‘Silence seems to have the opposite effect on the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension, silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.’
How many of dogs’ stress-related problems may be noise-related? I’m not talking about the obvious things like sudden loud bangs like fireworks and storms, but the relentless and continuous background sounds of things like TV, computers, machinery and so on soaking their brains even while they sleep.
Samuel M. Goldwasser, writing about the high pitched whine from TV suggests that the frequency may not be audible to adults but sufficiently loud to younger people to be disturbing.
What about dogs?
Jo Jackson in ‘Cuteness‘ explains:
‘Dogs can hear a greater range of sounds than people can. People hear sounds in the frequency range of 64 to 23,000 hertz while dogs can hear sounds in the frequency range of 67 to 45,000 hertz. ‘
Frequency together with volume can cause pain.
‘Animal hearing can be damaged by prolonged exposure to loud noises just like human hearing. A combination of high frequency and high volume will cause the most pain and discomfort. At high volumes, frequencies above 25,000 hertz are uncomfortable for dogs and will cause the dog to whimper or run away. This is basically how ultrasonic dog repellents work.’
There must be levels of noise that, because they are constant, can be very disturbing and stressful to certain sensitive dogs. In fact, a dog’s world is a lot fuller of sound than our own. When we think it’s quiet, there will still be a wide variety of sounds in our canines’ ears.
A Weimerana I went to a short while ago constantly paced and obsessed over things. Although very stressed when they go to leave, as soon as they have gone he settles down. They have been filming him. He is only ever really peaceful when alone with their other dog.
Oh dear. I now have this song on my brain.