Skip navigation
The Brain is Wired to Respond Differently to Approaching Sounds


Narrator: This is Science Today. Studies suggest that our brains are actually designed to perceive approaching sounds, such as a vehicle, differently than sounds that are just stationary or receding. Lawrence Rosenblum, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has spent years researching the perception of approaching cars.

Rosenblum: Brain regions that are recruited for motor involvement and emotional responses seemed to be recruited differently for approaching sounds versus receding or stationary sounds. In addition, there seemed to be a higher proportion of neurons that are just generally activated for approaching versus receding or stationary sounds and I think that it suggests that everybody's brain is designed for perceiving approaching sounds for the obvious reason that it acts as a protective device - it allows us to multitask as we're walking across a parking lot or waiting to cross a road, but when we hear an approaching sound, it's as if the brain's attention is then dedicated to that issue and it gives a lot of energy so we can make sure that we're safe.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.