The effects of low frequency noise on mental performance and annoyance.
Low frequency noise (LFN) as background noise in urban and work environments is emitted from many artificial sources such as road vehicles, aircraft, and air movement machinery including wind turbines, compressors, and ventilation or air conditioning units. In addition to objective effects, LFN could also cause noise annoyance and influence mental performance; however, there are no homogenous findings regarding this issue. The purpose of this research was to study the effects of LFN on mental performance and annoyance, as well as to consider the role of extraversion and neuroticism on the issue. This study was conducted on 90 students of Iran University of Medical Sciences (54 males and 36 females). The mean age of the students was 23.46 years (SD = 1.97). Personality traits and noise annoyance were measured by using Eysenck Personality Inventory and a 12-scale self-reported questionnaire, respectively. Stroop and Cognitrone computerized tests measured mental performance of participants each exposed to 50 and 70 dBA of LFN and silence. LFNs were produced by Cool Edit Pro 2.1 software. There was no significant difference between mental performance parameters under 50 and 70 dBA of LFN, whereas there were significant differences between most mental performance parameters in quiet and under LFN (50 and 70 dBA). This research showed that LFN, compared to silence, increased the accuracy and the test performance speed (p < 0.01). There was no association between LFN and noise annoyance (p > 0.01). Introverts conducted the tests faster than extraverts (p < 0.05). This research showed that neuroticism does not influence mental performance. It seems that LFN has increased arousal level of participants, and extraversion has a considerable impact on mental performance.DOI: 10.1007/s10661-013-3084-8