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Finnish people discovered how important is silence for our brains and used this concept as a marketing product in 2011, when The Finish Tourist Board ran a campaign inviting people to visit their country for enjoying its beauty, but also its silence. The slogan of the campaign was: “Silence, Please”. There are also many studies which proved that in this crazy world which becomes increasingly loud it is very important to offer your brain some moments of peace.
Keeping silence helps regenerating brain cells
A study published in the journal “Brain, Structure and Function” in 2013 concluded that silence can literally grow your brain. The research was applied on mice and there were used different types of noise and silence to monitor their effect on the brains of mice. When the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning. Researcher Imke Kirste concluded that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”
During periods of silence the brain discovers its place in our internal and external world
Another study conducted in 2001 identified a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information. Further research revealed that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. explained that the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran. In other words, during the periods of silence, our brain is able to discover its place in our internal and external world and allows us to think about deep things in an imaginative way.
Noise causes stress and tension, while silence relives them
It was proved that living in a noisy environment leads to chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. A study published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health. Gary W. Evans, professor of human ecology at Cornell University says that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. But these children also ignore stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans concluded. Silence has the opposite effect and releases tension in the brain and body. According to a study published in the journal Heart, two minutes of silence are more relaxing than listening to so called “relaxing” music.
We may regain our cognitive functions in peaceful environments.
Noise is also known to diminish performance at work and at school. The most affected cognitive functions when trying to work or study in a noisy environment are reading attention, memory and problem solving. Studies showed that children who live or go to schools near airports, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in developing their language skills. As a conclusion, we should avoid noise as much as possible in order to keep our brain healthy. And the good news is that researchers discovered that it is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources in a peaceful environment. So, it is enough to simply take a quiet walk and your brain will restore its functions which have been destroyed through excess noise.