Can bird songs improve our mood, attention and creativity?

Immersing oneself in nature always has always had a calming and positive effect on humans. Even something as simple as working in a garden or taking a walk on a nature trail has been shown to relax and remove everyday worries from one's mind. That humans innately love spending time in nature is known as biophilia and has been around for generations. But it wasn't until the 20th century's ecological awakening, led first by psychologist Erich Fromm and then later by ecologist E.O. Wilson that it was elevated to a scientific concept .

Scientists have begun to shed new light on the human brain in an ecological context in recent years. But much of the focus has been on the obvious visual icons of nature such as trees, flowers, beaches or mountains. But a new study is about to take place during the span of the next three years. It will focus on how birdsong actually affect the human brain in a psychological manner. In past studies it was found that bird songs can make traffic noise more tolerable. It also made people feel less crowded and could even initiate circadian rhythm. But until now few have looked at the greater impact of bird songs on our mental health.

The study will be led by researcher, Eleanor Ratcliffe, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental psychology at the University of Surrey in the U.K. It is her feeling that a study like this can fill a scientific void in current research and she will be funded by the U.K. National Trust and the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Dr. Ratcliffe will begin by interviewing a representative sample of the public to gauge their perception of natural sounds, including bird calls. She will attempt to find out if avian song can improve mood and attention after stress or fatigue. She will also try to learn more about which kinds of bird songs actually boost mental health and in what ways since not all birds sing the same tune. Lastly, she will be testing to see how this study could have applications in our daily lives as to whether or not listening to recorded birdsong could reduce stress levels.

National Trust ecologist Peter Brash suggests that dedicated birders already know the benefits of bird song in nature. He is quoted as saying, "Birdsong is one of the most distinctive sounds from the natural world, and gives us a warm glow inside when we hear it. We're all attuned to the need to eat five fruits and vegetables a day or take a 30-minute walk. Taking the time out to listen to five minutes of birdsong every day could be as beneficial to our well being."

Researchers are trying to determine if songbirds, like this eastern bluebird in Pennsylvania, can improve humans' mental performance.

VIDEO: Bird Songs

Responses to "Can bird songs boost your brain? (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Birdsong has been very successful in treating PTSD as well...

  2. Sherry says:

    Yes, I do believe it is true! This past winter I downloaded birds and water sounds onto my Ipod and played the sounds through speakers for my Himalayan cat.
    She seemed to be sleeping and sitting downstairs all day and all night. I was worried that she was depressed as she is reluctant to go outdoors in the cool/cold weather. Even if I brought her back upstairs to sit in the sunlight or watch birds out the windows she would quickly retreat downstairs.
    So in the evenings I began to play the Bird/Water Forest sounds and noticed she perked up and showed interest and became more playful with her mouse toys and myself. After several weeks, I now know when she wants the sounds on, as she stares at the speakers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oohh, these are the
    birds that bring me Spring!

  4. Abelyssah says:

    Wow They are really really good recordings! My Cats say so too).. many on u tub have traffic noise <3 ThankYOU what a treat ..oh tweet xD

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