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Stress, subjective experience and cognitive performance during exposure to noise an vibration
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (Arbetslivsinstitutet Umeå, Sweden)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Arbetslivsinstitutet Umeå, Sweden)
2007 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN 0272-4944, E-ISSN 1522-9610, Vol. 27, no 1, 44-54 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the effects of noise and whole-body vibration on saliva cortisol levels and subjectively rated difficulty and stress while performing cognitive tasks. In the first experiment, 24 men completed a logical reasoning task and a short-term memory task while, on separate occasions, being exposed to noise, vibration, combined stimuli, and control conditions. The environmental stimuli were designed to simulate the exposure from a forestry vehicle. The main finding was that participants made significantly higher ratings of stress when the noise stimulus was present, either alone or in combination with vibration. There were, however, some indications that noise sensitivity might moderate both subjective and objective measures such as higher ratings of stress and elevated cortisol levels in high noise sensitive participants. A second experiment was conducted where noise sensitivity was used as an inclusion criterion. A low sensitive and a high sensitive group were created, each containing 16 participants. The results of the second experiment, found only marginal effects of noise sensitivity and no effects at all on performance or cortisol. Increased ratings of stress and difficulty were found whenever either environmental stressor was present, whether by itself or in combination. The same result was seen even when pooling the data from both experiments. The main conclusion of the study is that relatively short exposures to noise and vibration typical of those levels that are found in industrial vehicles do not significantly affect performance in cognitive tasks nor saliva cortisol levels even if work in these environments can be experienced as more difficult or stressful.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier Ltd , 2007. Vol. 27, no 1, 44-54 p.
Keyword [en]
Noise sensitivity, Cortisol, Memory, Subjective ratings
National Category
Research subject
medicinsk beteendevetenskap; Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7465DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2006.12.003OAI: diva2:147136
Available from: 2008-01-23 Created: 2008-01-23 Last updated: 2011-06-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Psychological responses to noise and vibration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Psychological responses to noise and vibration
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Vehicle drivers are a group of workers that are exposed to noise and whole-body vibration (WBV) several hours a day. Some drivers may also be exposed to high mental loads – monitoring and manipulating physical controls while engaging problem solving activities often with strong short-term memory and spatial manipulation components. Present standards and regulations that govern health risk assessment do not take into consideration the complexities of these multiple exposure environments. The effect of one factor (for example, noise or WBV) may be different than the effect of two factors presented together. This thesis investigates whether the combination of noise and WBV affects the performance of cognitive tasks more than when the exposures are presented separately.

A series of studies were designed to expose subjects to noise and WBV stimuli designed to simulate real life working conditions. Different combinations of subjective ratings, cognitive tests, and cortisol measurements were conducted both during and immediately after exposures, which ranged from 20 to 45 minutes.

The studies have shown that a combination of noise and WBV do not degrade cognitive performance more than a single stimulus. However, WBV can degrade attention performance after exposure is turned off when drivers have been working under high mental load during exposure. The combined stimuli are also experienced as more annoying and work is more difficult in such conditions. The exposure times and task difficulty levels used in this thesis did not produce biological stress as measured by cortisol. Nevertheless, subjective ratings are sometimes seen as early indicators of other symptoms and with increased task difficulty and/or longer exposure times there may appear other measurable outcomes of the combined stimuli.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin, 2006. 52 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1068
Psychology, Cognitive, Cortisol, Noise, Vibration, Occupational, Vehicle, Weinstein, Occupational, Vehicle, Weinstein, Weinstein, Psykologi
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-915 (URN)91-7264-215-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-11-24, Stora föreläsningssalen, Arbetslivsinstitutet, Johan Bures väg 5, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-11-06 Created: 2006-11-06 Last updated: 2009-10-09Bibliographically approved

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Ljungberg, Jessica K.Neely, Gregory
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