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Do certain sounds make you smile? Study lists the Top 40 memory-triggering sounds for adults

[Sept 17, 2021: The Brighter Side of News]

Researchers studied over 2,000 adults aged 50 and over and found that four in ten experienced nostalgic thoughts every other week. (Credit: Creative Commons)

A study of 2,000 adults was commissioned by Specsavers and found that for a lot of people, a waterfall, bird songs and waves crashing on a beach are among the sounds that can bring back their happiest memories.

Researchers studied over 2,000 adults aged 50 and over and found that four in ten experienced nostalgic thoughts every other week - while one in ten experienced them every day.

According to the research, sound is also said to be the most powerful trigger for memories ahead of sight and smell.

Some said a cat purring, a crackling fireplace, a tree swaying in the wind, and church bells took them back to another time and place. While for others, rain on windows, sheep bleating, and a train going over rails make them smile.


The Sounds of Nature

"Sound impacts most aspects of our lives, so it is no surprise that certain sounds trigger happy childhood memories, particularly for those who grew up in the outdoors," said Gordon Harrison, chief audiologist at Specsavers, which commissioned the research.

"However, given the importance of our hearing, it is important to be checked out regularly to ensure such memories aren't lost along with reduced hearing."

The radio playing, the sound of the kettle boiling, and the sound of airplanes flying overhead were also listed among the top 40 triggering sounds for people over 50.

67% of adults report that the sound of nature makes them happy, which is why 78% of them spend lots of time in nature.

The study found that 94 per cent of Americans with outdoor space spent five hours a week there, with 72 per cent describing it as their 'happy place.

Three quarters of respondents also said that as they grow older, they treasure their happy memories even more.


The Top 40 memory-triggering sounds according to adults over the age of 40

1. A specific song or piece of music

2. Waves crashing on the shore

3. Birdsong

4. A crackling fireplace

5. Walking on fresh snow

6. A waterfall

7. Cat purring

8. Trees blowing in the wind

9. Rain on the window pane

10. Rustling leaves

11. Church bells

12. Bees buzzing

13. A thunderstorm

14. Rain patter on leaves

15. Children playing outside

16. Lawns being mown

17. A fountain

18. The radio playing

19. Sheep baaing

20. Seagulls squawking


21. A train going over tracks

22. Cows mooing

23. A cork popping

24. Dinner being served up

25. Pouring a drink

26. Mail being delivered

27. Food cooking on the hob

28. Cicadas humming

29. Sports stadium/arena

30. The kettle boiling

31. An airplane flying overhead

32. A crowd cheering

33. Horses galloping

34. A beer bottle/tin being opened

35. Dog barking

36. Fish jumping out of water

37. Street entertainers

38. A toaster popping

39. A coffee grinder

40. A garden sprinkler

How many of these sounds bring back memories for you?

For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


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