How does the Child perceive the Sound Environment? | CHILD & NOISE – INTERDISCIPLINARY SYMPOSIUM


Last Friday, Frans Mossberg and Eja Pedersen of the Sound Environment Centre, organised and moderated a thought-provoking and powerful interdisciplinary symposium with a wide range of speakers from around northern Europe, focused on how a child experiences the sound environment.

This was quite unique as an interdisciplinary symposium lifting out ongoing research and knowledge about how the sound environment may affect children spanning from the prenatal stage to the young person enjoying loud music or engaging in other loud activities. It is very rare for us to ask how the child perceives the sound environment they occupy.

Frans Mossberg Sound Environment Centre Project Manager.

The Sound Environment Center at Lund University takes a holistic grasp on children’s chronological exposure to sound and noise. Research on children’s exposure to sound and noise today spans over many different disciplines, like audiology, acoustics, logopedy psychology, environmental medicine and neuroscience to name a few. Top researchers from these fields took part in the symposium and the child’s exposure to sound was scrutinised both in detail and at meta levels.

Can the background to our noise sensitivity be traced to our early life? Is the fetus affected by their mothers’ exposure to external occupational noise? Do they react to musical sounds before birth? Could experiences of music and sound before birth have an impact for unborn after delivery?

What can brain research reveal about early auditory learning? What do we know of life course effects of early exposure? Experiences of noise levels at preschools? How is the acoustic reality and what improvements can be made? What about kids with hearing disabilities? How do the mobile music players affect young people? And finally, can performance and learning be improved by being mindful of soundscapes in childhood and youth?

All the above topics were presented and also the need to look at the most important gaps in knowledge and research. Below is an overview of the speakers and their topics with a link to their full abstracts.

Speakers (full abstracts and contact details here):

  • Karin Stjernqvist
    Prof. em. Psychology, Lund university
    Birth process and muted light and sound at time of entry to the world
  • Jenny Selander  
    PhD, Assistant Prof. Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet
    Occupational noise affecting stress levels of mother and child
  • Minna Houtilainen
    Docent, University of Helsinki and Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala University
    What electromagnetic brain responses reveal of the fetal and neonatal auditory exposure and learning
  • Ulrika Åden
    Prof. Neonatalogy, Karolinska Institutet
    The impacts of maternal singing during kangaroo care on mothers and infants – Preliminary Parental singing for preterm infants: brain function and development
  • Irene van Kamp
    PhD. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Utrecht, Netherlands
    Long-term effects of exposure to noise in (early) childhood: a life-course approach
  • Kerstin Person Waye
    Prof. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
    Health implications of early preschool noise exposure
  • Viveka L Åhlander
    Docent. Logopedy, Lund university, Board member of Sound Environment Center at Lund University
    The classroom as a shared work environment. On the effects of noise and voice quality on students’ comprehension and learning.
  • Jonas Christenson
    Concept Developer for educational environments, Saint-Gobain Ecophon, Sweden
    How room acoustics affect students and teachers
  • Kristofer Hansson
    Ass.Prof. Ethnology, Culture studies, LU
    Hearing impaired youth, outsiderness versus participation
  • Mette Sörensen
    Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen
    Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Behavioral Problems in 7-Year-Old Children
  • Bridget Shield
    Prof. em. Acoustics, London South Bank University, Great Britain
    Effects of noise on children’s learning and performance in primary and secondary schools

It was a really informative day and it highlighted the need for more interdisciplinary crossover to help us take a more holistic view and understand more about how we are influenced by sound from before birth through our lives at home, school, work and in our sleep everyday. Unwanted and problematic low-frequency noise was also a popular topic which needs more attention.


The presentations were filmed and will be available in the future for anybody interested in how sound affects us from the start of life and onwards. As well as the filmed presentations there is also a written report planned, for more info contact Frans Mossberg or Jonas Christensson of Ecophon.

More on sound environment in schools on Jonas Christensson’s blog (in Swedish); Ljudskolan.

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