Listen! Birdsong Is Good for Mental Health

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Summary: Listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia, a new study reports.

Source: Max Planck Institute

In the study, the researchers examined how traffic noise and birdsong affect mood, paranoia, and cognitive functioning by carrying out a randomized online experiment with 295 participants.

These heard six minutes of either typical traffic noise or birdsong with varying numbers of different traffic sounds or birdsongs. Before and after hearing the sound clips, the participants filled in questionnaires assessing their mental health and performed cognitive tests.

“Everyone has certain psychological dispositions. Healthy people can also experience anxious thoughts or temporary paranoid perceptions. The questionnaires enable us to identify people’s tendencies without their having a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, and paranoia and to investigate the effect of the sounds of birds or traffic on these tendencies,” says first author Emil Stobbe, Predoctoral Fellow at the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

The present study suggests that listening to birdsong reduces anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. Birdsong did not appear to have an influence on depressive states in this experiment. Traffic noise, however, generally worsened depressive states, especially if the audio clip involved many different kinds of traffic sounds.

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