Imagine the sound of long fingernails moving slowly on a black board, or the sound of a steel spoon moving repeatedly in a circular motion around an empty stainless pot… Did you cringe a little by imagining these sounds?

You are perfectly normal if you did, well if you didn’t may be you did not imagine hard enough. Personally, I find these sounds utterly annoying. The moment I hear a screeching metal sound for instance, I not only experience a sudden mood change but I get goose bumps as though I am freezing, occasionally I have to grind my teeth hard or clench my fist tight to distract myself from this awful sound.

Come to think of it, I have always had this aversion to this sound since I was little, at least as far as I can remember. One thing I cannot help but wonder is why some people are more sensitive to screeching metal than others?

To begin, what I want to know is what causes one to cringe at the sound of awful sounds.

As usual I saved you the stress of research. Look what I discovered:

University of New Castle carried out a recent research (read it here) on this issue. Their aim was to find out the association between the auditory cortex (part of brain responsible for understanding sound) and the amygdala (part of the brain responsible for emotions). Using fMRI (a brain imaging technique) their finding showed that the amygdala modulates the unpleasant sound received like a “distress signal” and provokes a negative reaction. The study also discovered that this negative reaction occurred with sounds ranged between 2,000 to 5,000 Hz range.

Don’t you think it’s amazing the way our brain interprets certain sounds? Some have said that the reason this negative reaction is triggered is to ensure that we put an end to this sound as soon as it begins. So it could be a survival technique to protect our ears perhaps.

The question I asked earlier about why some are more sensitive to the sound. I read from an article (read here
) that it depends on the context in which the noise occurred. Perhaps, if you heard the screech of an iron sponge against a stainless steel pot you likely may not cringe if you were in the kitchen anticipating the noise than if you were in your bedroom. Another point also is that response to sounds might vary with individuals, depending on how close they are to the noise, their ears and of course their individual sensitivity.

So the next time you hear a screech, remember that whatever your response is- You are perfectly normal 😉

When was the last time you heard a screech? How did you react?