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J Acoust Soc Am. 2014 Jan;135(1):213-22. doi: 10.1121/1.4842475.

Nocturnal air, road, and rail traffic noise and daytime cognitive performance and annoyance.

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  • 1DLR-German Aerospace Center, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, 51170 Cologne, Germany.


Various studies indicate that at the same noise level and during the daytime, annoyance increases in the order of rail, road, and aircraft noise. The present study investigates if the same ranking can be found for annoyance to nocturnal exposure and next day cognitive performance. Annoyance ratings and performance change during combined noise exposure were also tested. In the laboratory 72 participants were exposed to air, road, or rail traffic noise and all combinations. The number of noise events and LAS,eq were kept constant. Each morning noise annoyance questionnaires and performance tasks were administered. Aircraft noise annoyance ranked first followed by railway and road noise. A possible explanation is the longer duration of aircraft noise events used in this study compared to road and railway noise events. In contrast to road and rail traffic, aircraft noise annoyance was higher after nights with combined exposure. Pooled noise exposure data showed small but significant impairments in reaction times (6 ms) compared to nights without noise. The noise sources did not have a differential impact on performance. Combined exposure to multiple traffic noise sources did not induce stronger impairments than a single noise source. This was reflected also in low workload ratings.

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