Friday, February 15, 2013


It will come as no surprise to anyone that there exist in this world some sounds that are experienced as annoying and some sounds that are experienced as pleasant. I have lived my life up to this point, perfectly satisfied with the existence of this phenomenon, feeling no need to find out why some sounds please while others perturb.


Never satisfied with the answer "just because," scientific researchers (For more on my true feelings about these fine folks, see last week's post.) have tirelessly pinpointed the source of our reactions to different sounds and published the results of their studies in the Journal of Neuroscience...a fine publication to which I own a long-term subscription, and yet, I still choose to only read small snippets that appear in Reader's Digest...specifically, the February 2013 issue of Reader's Digest.

According to the aforementioned snippet, "some sounds are irritating because they trigger activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that regulates emotions."

Oh really? Are we sure it's not the other way around? Maybe the sounds trigger activity in the amygdala because they are irritating. 'Jevver think o' that? Huh? Huh?!?!!? "Jevver think that maybe my amydgala is triggered into activity because YOU'RE irritating?

And another thing...the tireless researchers (What IS it about researchers that keep them from getting tired? Man, that's irritating, too.) have based the following declarations on "the brain activity of 13 volunteers who listened to 74 different sounds." much trouble did they have to go to to aquire a whole, big, whopping 13 volunteers?

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Anyway, here's what The Experts came up with for the top four most-annoying sounds:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Fork on a glass
3. Chalk on a blackboard
4. Ruler on a bottle
Firstly, I submit that numbers 1, 2, and 4 are basically the same sound.

Secondly, I submit that we don't often find ourselves listening to a ruler on a bottle or a knife on a glass, so why bother with testing for how irritating they sound?

Thirdly, I submit the following short list, in no particular order, of sounds that are far more irritating than what The Experts came up with:

  • Fran (The Nanny) Drescher's voice
  • Any music released by an artist with non-letters in their name (e.g., Ke$ha, Maroon 5)
  • Cubicle vibrations caused by a co-worker's Restless Leg Syndrome
  • The Super Bowl commercial where the beauty and the geek noisily kiss
  • My alarm clock

Wow...I really had my grump on today, didn't I? That's kinda irritating...

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