Does Anthropogenic Noise in National Parks Impair Memory?

Jacob A. Benfield, Paul A. Bell, Lucy J. Troup, Nick Soderstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Research on noise shows that a variety of effects including stress, annoyance, and performance decrements exist for certain types of sounds. Noise interferes with cognitive ability by overloading the attentional system or simply distracting from efficient encoding or rehearsal, but very little research has extended those findings to recreation or natural environments such as those found in national parks. By exposing participants to one of four soundscape conditions-control, natural, natural with voices, and natural with ground traffic-the current project tested the effect of sound conditions on the recognition and recall of factual information presented whereas viewing scenes of national parks. Both the natural with voices and natural with ground traffic conditions caused significant decreases in memory scores while the natural condition showed no differences from the control condition. Implications for sound management strategies are discussed in the context of current legislation and recent field research. Avenues for future research to clarify the mode of memory interference are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-706
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


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