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Effects of sound types and volumes on simulated driving, vigilance tasks and heart rate

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The objective was to determine whether specific types and volumes of sounds affect driving-related tasks. Participants completed six trials while exposed to different sound types (hard rock, classical music and industrial noise) and volumes (53 versus 95 db (A)). Participants executed a randomized order of tasks, involving: movement (MT), reaction time (RT), simulated driving (SimD), and non-conscious perception of masking stimuli. The results suggest high volumes impaired SimD, RT and MT. During hard rock music, accommodation HR was significantly higher whereas male RT was slower than female RT. However, RT was enhanced when subjects were exposed to hard rock music during a non-conscious task of longer duration. SimD crashes increased during quiet hard rock music in comparison to quiet industrial noise. Experimental HR was lower during quiet sound volumes for both genders. In summary, loud volumes affect simple vigilance whereas hard rock music may affect tasks involving concentration and attention especially with males.
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Occupational Ergonomics 7 (2007) 153–168 153
IOS Press
Effects of sound types and volumes on
simulated driving, vigilance tasks and heart
rate
Brian H. Daltona,, David G. Behmaand Armin Kibeleb
aSchool of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s,
Newfoundland, Canada
bInstitute for Sports and Sport Science, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
Abstract. The objective was to determine whether specific types and volumes ofsounds affect driving-related tasks. Participants
completed six trials while exposed to different sound types (hard rock, classical music and industrial noise) and volumes (53
versus 95 db (A)). Participants executed a randomized order of tasks, involving: movement (MT), reaction time (RT), simulated
driving (SimD), and non-conscious perception of masking stimuli. The results suggest high volumes impaired SimD, RT
and MT. During hard rock music, accommodation HR was significantly higher whereas male RT was slower than female RT.
However, RT was enhanced when subjects were exposed to hard rock music during a non-conscious task of longer duration.
SimD crashes increased during quiet hard rock music in comparison to quiet industrial noise. Experimental HR was lower
during quiet sound volumes for both genders. In summary, loud volumes affect simple vigilance whereas hard rock music may
affect tasks involving concentration and attention especially with males.
Keywords: Noise, music, volume, non-conscious perception
1. Introduction
High levels of background noise can be a nuisance and affect human health [38,63]. The most
obvious effect of high intensity noise exposure is noise-induced hearing loss [1]. Yet, noise also
affects concentration [4,33,39] and human performance [58,65]. Button et al. [13] studied the effects
of industrial noise and muscle contractions on simple and complex vigilance. High intensity industrial
noise impaired reaction and movement times when responding to simple vigilant tasks and decreased
performance during a complex vigilant task. It is not clear whether loud volumes of music, which may
be considered as pleasant or arousing, may have similar detrimental effects on humanperformance?
From one perspective, music may facilitate activities that require high levels of attention and concen-
tration [16,18,24,26,43] due to its stimulating nature. On the other hand, music may also be distracting
to human performance during specific tasks [17,21,25,35]. Music (sound having rhythm, melody or
harmony) may even be as distracting as noise (unwanted signal or disturbance) [27].
Address for correspondence: David G. Behm, School ofHuman Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfound-
land, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, A1C 5S7. Tel.: +1 709 737 3408; Fax: +1 709 737 3979; E-mail: dbehm@mun.ca.
1359-9364/07/$17.00 2007 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved
154 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
It has been stated that approximately 91% of musical exposure occurs during automobile transits [56,
57], with rock music being the listened to most often [48]. However, the research has opposing opinions
on whether music negatively impacts driving-related tasks.
One of the pioneer studies developed by Brown [10] studied the effects of background music, speech
and silence during light and heavy traffic. Brown [10] reported that music might reduce stress during
driving, lowering emotional arousal under frustrating circumstances, suchas heavy congested traffic. It
was summarized that listening to music may even have a slight beneficial effect on control activity of
a vehicle [10]. However, the early studies found it difficult to distinguish whether background music
demonstrated a positive or negative effect on driving performance[13,37].
More recent studies have highlighted both positive and negative outcomes in respect to driving per-
formance and background music. In numerous instances, music facilitates performance during driving
related tasks [5,43,50,59,64]. According to the literature, it seems that moderate or comfortable volumes
of background music exposureimproves one’s performance when performing driving-related tasks. For
example, Spinney [59] reported that quieter volumes of music played at 55 dB (A) provided an optimal
driving condition in comparison to silence and loud music played at 85 dB (A). Moreover, drivers im-
prove their awarenessand performance when exposedto music that is in a range of their own subjective
comfort level [64]. It was demonstrated that moderate levels of music intensities report the safest driving
conditions in that it stimulates driver awareness [43].
Due to the stimulating nature of music, it may be purported that loud hard rock music may improve
driving performance through enhancedreaction times and awareness [43]. However, the study conducted
by Matthews and colleagues [43] only looked at loud volumes ranging between 70–90 dB (A), which
may be lower than what is considered loud by today’s younger driver. Thus, a moderate volume of music
may in fact enhance driving performance, whereas loud volumes may distract drivers.
Theliteraturehasbeensomewhat inconsistentinreportingthefindingson the effectsbackgroundmusic
has on driving related-tasks. Even though music has been shown to benefit driving performance and
behavior, it still may bea major distraction and detrimental to driving abilities [5,47,55,59]. Additionally,
high arousal music may deter driving performance dueto competition for limited processing space within
the cortex [47]. North and Hargreaves [47] found that high arousing music (low arousal: 80 bpm at 60 ±
5 dB (A); high arousal: 140 bpm at 80 ±5 dB (A)), increased lap times and decreased performance
during simulated driving. Thus, higher arousinglevels of music may impair cognitive or driving related
performance [47].
The purpose of the current study is to determine whether different types or intensities of music affect
performance during driving-related activities. It is hypothesized that low volume sound will facilitate
driving-related tasks, whereas loudvolume sound will impair performance. In relation to type of sound,
it is hypothesized that hard rockwill affect tasks moredetrimentally compared to classicalmusic. Thus,
the present study not only attempts to clarify the conflicting literature but also adds unique components
such as the measurement of non-conscious perception reaction time.
2. Methodology
2.1. Participants
Six male (173 ±6 cm, 72.57 ±8.61 kg, 22 ±1.21 years) and six female (171 ±3.5 cm, 66.9 ±
15.1 kg, 27 ±10.34 years) participants from the university community volunteered for the experiment.
None of the participants indicated a history of hearing or visual impairments. All participants filled
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 155
out Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) form from the Canadian Society for Exercise
Physiology to determine their general health status. If any health problems were reported they were
excluded from the study. Additionally, all subjects held a valid driving license for at least four years. All
participants indicated they either did not play or rarely played video games. Additionally, all subjects
were initially unfamiliar with the steering wheel and video game used for the study. Participants read and
signed a consent form prior to commencementof the study. The Memorial University of Newfoundland
Human InvestigationsCommittee granted approval.
2.2. Experimental design summary
Participants completed six different trials of 45 minutes each. Participants were subjected to a
combination of auditory stimuli and sound intensities (volumes). Conditions for each individual included
the same audio clips of loud (95 dB (A)) and quiet (53 dB (A)) levels of hard rock music, classical music,
and industrial noise. Whereas hard rock music selections emphasized heavy bass (low frequency)
components and classical was chosen for its greater treble (higher frequency) emphasis, industrial noise
was composed of both very high and very low frequency sound. Conditions were randomized for all
participants. Tasks performed during the testing block included: simulated driving performance (time
to finish course, number of crashes and road shoulder hits), reaction and movement time tasks, and a
non-conscious perception task. The dependent variables were dispersed randomly within the testing
block. Prior to the experiment, participants were granted an orientation session in which they completed
the experimental tasks without the conditions of music or noise.
2.3. Dependent variables
Dependent variables included reaction and movement time tasks, vigilance and driving performance
(time to finish course, number of crashes and road shoulder hits), and heart rate (HR).
2.3.1. Vigilance tasks
Reaction time (RT) and movement time (MT) were measured with an apparatus developed by the
Memorial University Technical Services (Electronics, Newfoundland, Canada). The testing apparatus
consisted of an analogue timer (L15-365/099, Triton Electronics, Great Britain), a stop clock (58007,
LafayetteInstrumentCompany,Lafayette,IN), a stop clock latch (58027, LafayetteInstrumentCompany,
Lafayette, IN) which attached the analog timer and stop clock, a custom designed box (62 cm (length) ×
15.5 cm (width) ×9 cm (height)) with the distance of 50 cm from centre of start button to the centre
of the stop button, and a trigger plate for the start of the task [13]. The task required movement of the
driving leg (right) following the illumination of an incandescent light bulb (Fig. 1). The subject began
with the right driving foot on the start button. Once the light was illuminated, the participant would
release the start button and move the right foot and leg to push the stop button. The time between the
lighting of the bulb and the release of the start button was recorded as the RT. MT was measured as the
duration between the illumination of the light stimulus and the pressing of the stop button. Three trials
of RT and MT were randomly performed during a three-minute time period. All trials registered a MT
& RT. The mean of the three trials were used in the statistical analysis of RT and MT.
2.3.2. Simulated driving (SimD)performance tasks
SimD performance was tested using a video game console (Playstation 2, Sony) with the software
game, ‘Gran Turismo 4: The Real Driving Simulator’ (Sony Computer). The software permits the user
156 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
Fig. 1. Examples of Metacontrast Stimuli (Klotz & Neumann, 1999).
Fig. 2. Event Succession per Trial.
to complete individual timed laps. Lap times were recorded to the nearest hundredth of a second at
the conclusion of a lap. Subjects controlled the game with the GT Driving Force Pro Force Feedback
Racing Wheel (239298, Logitech) (see Fig. 2). The hardware (monitor and wheel) was secured to a
desk with the monitor at head height and the wheel situated at mid-chest height. Accelerator and brake
pads were placed under the desk in a similar position as found in North American cars. The same
course and vehicle was used for each participant. Duration of the task was approximately five minutes.
Driving performance measures included driving times, crashes, and shoulder hits. All participants were
instructed that driving times, crashes, and shoulder hits were taken into consideration. All participants
were granted a minimum 60-minute orientation session with the video game and its controls prior to the
testing. In order to reduce any changes in driving times due to learning effects, subjects were permitted
to practice with the video game console until a plateau of SimD time was demonstrated. This constituted
a baseline for all participants.
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 157
2.3.3. Heart rate
HRwasmonitored withaheartrate monitor (PolarS810iHeart Rate Monitor,Polar Electro Oy,Finland,
Model # 1903020). HR was recorded into three categories: resting, accommodation, and experimental.
Resting HR was recorded approximately5 minutes after the subject was seated and relaxing in the testing
chair. Subjects followed the pre-fitness testing protocol associated with the Canadian Physical Activity
and Fitness Lifestyle testing which includes abstention from food, caffeinated beveragesand smoking for
2 hours, alcohol and exercise for 6 hours prior to testing. Testing was conducted at the same time of day
to ensure consistency of diurnal rhythms. Accommodation HR was recorded approximately 2 minutes
after the intended sound and volume commencedplayback through the headphones placed on the subject.
Experimental HR was recorded immediately following the termination of each testing variable in order
to collect sufficient data points to represent an average heart rate over the 45 testing minute period. All
heart rate measures are described in beats per minute (bpm).
Resting HR and accommodation HR were measured prior to the start of an experimental condition.
HR was also measured during the experiment. All tasks were performedin the presence of music (hard
rock or classical) or industrial noise.
2.3.4. Non-conscious perception
In research with healthy people, oneexperimental paradigm with which a direct specification of motor
response parameters without conscious control has been successfully investigated is the Metacontrast
Dissociation. It was first employed by Neumannand Klotz [46], based on earlier work by Neumann [45]
and Wolff [66].
Participants performed a two-alternative choice RT task on a personal computer with geometric shapes
as the stimuli. Participants were presented with a stimulus display that consisted of a target and a
distractor. They were asked to execute one of two motor responses (e.g., pressing a left or right mouse
button), depending on whether the target appeared on the left or right. Unknown to participants, these
stimuli were preceded by a pair of masked primes, whichwere smaller replicas of the target (target-like
prime) and/or of the distractor (distractor-like prime; Fig. 1). There were three conditions. In the
neutral condition, the targets as well as the distractor were preceded by distractor-like primes. In the
congruent condition, the target was preceded by a target-like prime, and the distractor was preceded by
a distractor-like prime. In the incongruent condition, this mapping was reversed. Thus, to the degree
that the masked primes cued a response, the correct response was cued in the congruent condition, and
the incorrect response was cued in the incongruent condition, while no responsewas cued in the neutral
condition.
The stimuli were presented on a 17” monitor (refresh rate 67 Hz), controlled by a microcomputer.
Viewing distance was approximately 50 cm. Participants respondedby pressing a mouse button. Stimuli
were displayed in black (5 cd/m2) on a white background (130 cd/m2). A trial encompassed a dynamic
fixation assistance, a prime pair and a target-distractor pair (Fig. 2). The target-distractor pair also served
as a mask for the prime pair. The dynamic fixation assistance was employed to direct attention towards
the center of the screen. Four dots moved from the corners to the center of the screen in 750 ms. At
the starting position, the distance between the dots was 19 deg. In the center they merged into one dot
and disappeared. The target-distractor pair was composed of a square and a diamond, each with star-like
inner contours, aligned horizontally at a retinal eccentricity of 3 deg either above or below the center
of the screen. The outer distance between the square and the diamond was 4.3 deg. The prime pair
consisted of two smaller replicas of either two diamonds,two squares, a left diamond and a right square,
or a left square and a right diamond. The outer contours of the primes coincided with the corresponding
158 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
part of the inner contours of the target-distractor pair. Exposure durations were 30 ms (prime pair) and
90 ms (target-distractor pair). The stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) was 75 ms.
The experiment took place in a dimly lit room and took about 15–20 minutes. In half of the trials
the target-distractor pair was a left square and a right diamond, in the other half the arrangement was
reversed. For half of the participants, the square was assigned as their target stimulus, for the other
half the diamond was the target stimulus. There were three prime/target conditions. In the congruent
condition the diamond in the target-distractor pair was preceded at its position by a diamond prime, and
the square member of the target-distractor pair was preceded by a square prime. In the incongruent
condition the assignment was reversed. In the neutral condition there were two identical primes that
were smaller replicas of the distractors (squares or diamonds, depending onstimulus assignments). The
inter trial interval was approximately 5–7 s. The experiment encompassed 180 trials in a random order,
different for each participant and consisting of 60 eachcongruent, incongruent, and neutral prime/target
pairings. A random generator arrangedthe order of the trials. In each of the conditions, there were equal
numbers of trials with stimulus presentation above or below the fixation point, and with the target in the
left or right position. These experimental trials were preceded by 10–15 practice trials. Participants were
instructed to press the left mouse button with the index finger of their left hand if their assigned target
appeared on the left, and the right mouse button with the index finger of their right hand if it appeared
on the right. They were asked to respond as fast as possible, but try to avoid errors. If no response was
registered within one second, RT was omitted. Response latency was measured from the onset of the
target.
2.4. Independent variables
Eachintervention(hard rock, classical,andindustrialnoiseat loud and quiet volumes)wasincorporated
on separate occasions. Each session was performed within 24–48 hours of the previous session. All
sessions per subject were tested at similar times during the day to account for circadian rhythms.
2.4.1. Auditory stimulus
Participants were subjected to digitally recorded (www.sounddogs.com)loud industrial noise volume
(similar to construction and industrial work) of 95 dB (A) [54], quiet industrial noise volume (similar to
a quiet office environment) of 53 dB (A) [49], loud hard rock music at 95 dB (A), quiet hard rock music
at 53 dB (A), loud classical music at 95 dB (A), or quiet classical music at 53 dB (A). The hard rock
music was a recording of various compilations (See Table 1 for song list). Meanwhile, a compilation of
songs featuring the panpipes (Magic of the Panpipes, Gheorghe Zamfir, Universal Music, Willowdale,
Ontario) was termed classical. While it is evident that panpipe music may not be considered in the
same context as Bach or Beethoven classical music, the term classical will be used throughout this paper
with the caveat that it may not be strictly considered classical. During both conditions, the music was
randomly selected and played.
Subjects were exposed to each auditory stimulus through stereo headphones (HR-80, Toshiba, Japan)
that were connected to am/fm stereo receiver (VRX-2700, Vector Research, USA). The National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) advises that the average person can be safely exposed to
auditory stimuli at 95 dB (A) for approximately one hour. The exposure during this experiment was
approximately 45 minutes. To ensure auditory stimuli levels remained within NIOSH recommendations,
auditory stimuli levels were averaged through a pre-test. A sound level meter (Sound Level Meter
33–2055, Radioshack, Canada) was placed between the headphones for a five-minute period prior to
commencement of the experimental sessionin order to monitor the averagedecibel level.
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 159
Table 1
Hard rock music list
Black Sabbath – Iron Man (Warner Brothers, 1971)
Disturbed – The Game (Giant, 2000)
Hair of the Dog – Rise (Spitfire, 2000)
Megadeth – Disintegrators (EMI Music Canada, 1997)
Metallica – Frantic (Elektra Entertainment, 2003)
Metallica – Holier Than Thou (Elektra Entertainment, 1991)
Metallica – Sad But True (Elektra Entertainment, 1991)
Metallica – The Shortest Straw (Elektra Entertainment, 1988)
M¨
otley Cr¨
ue – Dr. Feelgood (Hip-O Records, 1989)
Motley Cr¨
ue – Kickstart my Heart (Hip-O Records, 1989)
Orgy – Blue Monday (Reprise, 1998)
Rammstein – Links234(Universal Music Group, 2001)
Rammstein – Zwitter (Universal Music Group, 2001)
Rob Zombie - Dead Girl Superstar (Universal Music Group, 2001)
Rob Zombie – Dragula (Universal Music Group, 1998)
Rob Zombie – Scum of the Earth (Universal Music Group, 2001)
Soil – The One (Sony Music Canada Inc., 2001)
White Zombie – Children of the Grave (Sony Music, 1994)
2.5. Statistical analysis
All data were analyzed with a three-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) (3 ×2×2) (type of sound,
sound volume, andgender) with repeated measures (GB Stat V7.0for Windows (Dynamic Microsystems,
Inc.)) to determine whether there were significantmain effects or interactionsof the testing blocks. The
non-conscious perception task was also analyzed with a three-way ANOVA (3 ×3×2) (meta-contrast
condition, type of sound, sound volume) with repeated measures (GB Stat V7.0 for Windows (Dynamic
Microsystems, Inc.)). F ratios were considered significant at p<0.05. If significant main effects or
interactions were present, a Bonferroni (Dunn’s) procedure was conducted. Effect sizes (ES =mean
change / standard deviation of the sample scores) were also calculated and reported [14]. Cohen applied
qualitative descriptors for the effect sizes with ratios of 0.2, 0.5 and 0.8 indicating small, moderate and
large changes respectively. Descriptive statistics include means ±standard deviation (SD) for both the
text and figures.
3. Results
3.1. Simple vigilance tasks
3.1.1. Reaction time
Loud sound volumes (main effect for intensity) significantly(p<0.01) impaired RTby 15% compared
to quiet sound volumes (Table 2). Significant (p<0.01) interactions were noted. Loud hard rock music,
loudclassicalmusic and loud industrial noise impaired RTby 16.9%, 10.1% and18.7%comparedto quiet
hard rock music, quiet classical music and quiet industrial noise respectively (Table 3). Loud classical
music significantly (p<0.01) decreased RT by 7.5% compared to loud industrial noise (Table 3). There
were no significant differences between loud hard rock and loud classical music, nor loud hard rock
music and loud industrial noise.
Males were more adversely affected by hard rock music comparedto females. Hard rock significantly
(p<0.01,ES=0.45: Medium) impaired male RT (0.314 s ±0.06) by 9.5% compared to females
(0.287 s ±0.04). Other types of sound did not show any significantdifferences with respect to gender.
160 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
Table 2
Main Effects and Effect Sizes (ES)for 53 and 95 dB(A) (Mean ±SD)
53 dB(A) 95 dB(A)
Reaction times p<0.01,ES=1.01 (Large) 0.282 ±0.039 0.324 ±0.042
Movement Time p<0.01,ES=0.68 (Medium) 512.1 ±73.5 554.5 ±62.7
Simulated Driving Times p<0.01,ES=0.16 (Small) 147.5 ±11.4 149.5 ±12.4
Experimental Heart Rate p<0.05,ES=0.26 (Small) 75.7 ±10.8 79.1 ±13.1
Table 3
Summary of reaction times during varying sound volumes and types (Mean ±SD).
The following symbol (Φ) indicates that the values are significantly different from all
other variables at 53 dB(A). An asterisk indicates significant differences between the
two variables identified with the asterisk. Effect sizes (ES) describe the magnitude of
change for the variables in that column
Hard Rock Classical Industrial Noise
95 dB(A) 0.324 ±0.040 s Φ0.313 ±0.038 s Φ, * 0.337 ±0.048 s Φ,*
*ES =0.5: Moderate
53 dB(A) 0.278 ±0.044 s
ΦES =1.15: Large 0.284 ±0.038 s
ΦES =0.76: Large 0.284 ±0.037 s
ΦES =1.1: Large
Table 4
Summary of SimD times in relation to sound volume and type (Mean ±SD).
The following symbol (Φ) indicates that the classical music variable at 95dB(A)
is significantly different from all other variables at 53 dB(A). The following
symbol () indicates that the classical music variable at53 dB(A) is significantly
different from hard rock and industrial noise variables at 95 dB(A). The symbols
(,Φ) preceding the effect sizes (ES) describe the magnitude of change for the
corresponding interactions
Hard Rock Classical Industrial Noise
95 dB(A) 149.3 ±13.2 s
ES=0.19: Small 150.12 ±12.16 s
Φ
148.9 ±12.9 s
ES=0.15: Small
53 dB(A) 147.9 ±11.1 s
ΦES=0.19: Small 146.9 ±12.1 s ,
ΦES=0.26: Small 147.6 ±12.1s
ΦES=0.21: Small
3.1.2. Movement time
Loud sounds (main effect for intensity) significantly (p<0.01) impaired MT by 8.2% compared to
quiet sound volumes (Table 2). There were no significant interactions for MT.
3.2. Simulated driving (SimD)performance tasks
There was a main effect for gender with male SimD times (138.6 s ±4.9) significantly (p<0.01,
ES =4.0: Large) faster by 14.3% compared to female SimD times (158.4 s ±7.8). A main effect for
intensity illustrated that loud volumes of sound significantly (p<0.01) impaired SimD times by 1.3%
compared to quiet volumes of sound (Table 2). Significant (p<0.05) interactions were noted. Loud
classical music impaired SimD times by 2.1%, 1.7% and 1.5% compared to quiet volumes of classical
music, industrial noise and hard rock respectively. Furthermore, quiet classical improved SimD times
by 1.6% and 1.4% compared to loud volumes of hard rock and industrial noise respectively (Table 4).
SimD crashes showed a strong trend (p=0.056) for hard rock music exposure to produce more
crashes per lap driven by 18.4% (1.48 ±1.16 to 1.25 ±1.01 crashes per lap) compared to industrial
noise (main effect for type of sound). In respect to gender main effects, sound type had no influence on
male or female SimD crashes.
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 161
Table 5
Summary of SimD crashes per lap in relation to sound volume and type
(Mean ±SD). An asterisk indicates significant differences between the two
variables signified with the asterisk. Effect sizes (ES) describe the magnitude
of change for the variables in that column
Hard Rock Classical Industrial Noise
95 dB(A) 1.5 ±1.30 1.25 ±0.87 1.46 ±0.89
53 dB(A) 1.4 ±1.1* 1.5 ±1.2* 1.1 ±1.1
ES =0.4: Moderate ES =0.4: Moderate
Fig. 3. Hard rock significantly (p<0.05) increases accommodation HR. Asterisk indicates significant difference from the
other variable indicated by the line. Values are means ±standard deviations (crossed lines).
When data were collapsed over gender, quiet levels of industrial noise significantly (p<0.01)
decreased SimD crashes by 40% and 44% compared to quiet volumes of hard rock and classical music
respectively (Table 5).
There were no significant differences in respect to shoulder hits.
3.3. Heart rate
Male resting HR was significantly (p<0.01,ES=0.97: Large) lower (63 ±9.2 to 72 ±14.1 bpm)
compared to females.
3.3.1. Accommodation heart rate
A main effect for gender was found with male subjects presenting significantly (p<0.01,ES=0.86:
Large) lower accommodation HR by 12.4% (65 ±9.2 to 73 ±14.4 b.min1)compared to females.
There was no main effect for volume. A main effect for type of sound indicated that accommodation
HR significantly (p<0.05,ES=0.23: Small-Moderate) increased by 4.2% during exposure to hard
162 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
Fig. 4. Hard Rock music facilitated RT (p<0.01). Asterisk indicates significant difference from the other variable indicated
by the line. Values are means ±standard deviations (crossedlines).
rock compared to classical music (Fig. 3). Industrial noise showed no significant differences compared
to hard rock or classical music.
3.3.2. Experimental heart rate
A main effect for gender was foundwith male HR (74 ±7.8 b.min1)during the experimental protocol
being significantly (p<0.01,ES=0.89: Large) lower by 9.9% to compared to female HR (81 ±14.3 b
.min1). A main effect for volume showed that experimental HR significantly (p<0.05) increased
during loud sound volumes by 4.5% compared to quiet intensity sounds (Table 2). There was no main
effect for type of sound. An interactive effect showed that female experimental HR was significantly
(p<0.05,ES=0.89: Large) higher during loud hard rock (85.9 ±13.4) exposure by 16% compared
to quiet hard rock music (73.9 ±12.8).
3.4. Non-conscious perception: Metacontrast masking test
With data collapsed over type and volume of sound, RT was significantly (p<0.01) different for all
three conditions of the metacontrast masking protocol. Congruent RT was the fastest (372 ±47 ms)
followed by mixed RT (396 ±38 ms), while incongruent RT were the slowest (434 ±41 ms). Further,
with data collapsed over sound volume and metacontrast condition (main effect for type of sound),
hard rock music significantly (p<0.01) facilitated RT of all metacontrast conditions by 3.3% and
3.8% compared to classical music (ES =0.33: Moderate) and industrial noise (ES =0.41: Moderate)
respectively (Fig. 4).
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 163
4. Discussion
Similar to previous research [13] the present study illustrated that high volume sounds significantly
impaired RT and MT. In the current study, high volume sound impeded SimD time performance. Unique
to the present study, male RT was adversely affected by hard rock music. Conversely, hard rock music
generally (high and low volumes) improvedRT during a metacontrast-masking task.
4.1. Sound and simple vigilance performance
Data from the current study indicated that high volume sounds of any type (hard rock, classical, or
industrial noise) impaired RT and MT tasks significantly. These findings confirm previous studies in
the area of high volume noise and music on vigilant activity [5,13,64]. These results have been noted
previously in the literature where music is as distracting as noise during human performance [27].
In a similar vein, it is well documented that cell phone use impairs driving performance [2,11,51].
Cell phone utilization during crucial driving maneuvers erodes performance, decreases overall safety
margin, and distracts drivers from critical primary tasks [31]. Talking on a mobile phone impairs
reaction time to a braking stimulus [15], increases crash risk [34], and distracts drivers from performing
critical maneuvers [31]. Furthermore, delayed reaction times during driving increasethe severity of the
impact upon collision and it is enhanced at highway speeds [12,41]. The effect of cell phone use may
be more critical than just listening to loud volumes of noise or music since it is considered dual-task
processing [60,61]. Thus, it not only involves listening but conversing as well. The act of conversation
interferes with reaction time. According to Consiglio and others [15] conversation performed either in
person or by telephone caused slower reaction times. Additionally, conversation limits one’s functional
field of view while driving [3].
But why would loud volumes be detrimental to performance? It was purported recently by Button
and colleagues [13] that loud volumes may impact vigilance due to its greater processing demands on
the central nervous system (CNS). Attention may be deterred from the task at hand; thus, causing an
impaired RT and MT. Another reason is that such high volumes of sound may cause an anxiety effect
within the subjects [20]. It is well documented that chronic exposure to noise increases stress levels [22,
23]. According to H´
ebert et al. [32], auditory input in the form of background music significantly
increased stress response during video game play. Increased anxiety level responseis also supported by
the present study in which experimental HR was significantly increased during exposureto loud sounds.
Increasing the state of anxiety and stress seems to over arouse the CNS, which in turn deters performance.
Delay and Mathey [19] discovered that subject’s performance during a time estimation task increased
consistently between noise intensity levels of 50 to 80 dB (A). Nevertheless, as the noise intensity
approached 90 dB (A) the subject’s ability to estimate time decreased [19]. Accordingly in the present
study, simple vigilance was impaired perhaps as a result of higher levels of arousal impacting anxiety
and processing within the CNS. Based on this study and the previous study from our laboratory [13],
any form of loud sound whether it be an irritating noise or preferred music will have a negative impact
on simple vigilance tasks which could include activities such as the time it takes to apply the brakes or
adjust the steering wheel while operating a moving vehicle.
Possibly originating from similar mechanisms, loud classical music was significantly more detrimental
for RT compared to loud industrial noise. Due to the nature of classical music, the auditory stimulus
is complex in design and may have greater arousal and higher processing demandscompared to simple
random noise. There may be an increased attentional demand for this type of music in comparison
to loud industrial noise. According to North and Hargreaves [47] higher arousing music led to worse
164 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
performance during a SimD activity. It was proposed that the results reflect the possibility that the
concurrent music and task compete for limited cognitive space. Also, an important note to mention
is that RT was affected to a greater extent than MT. This result replicates the findings of Turner and
associates [64]. They suggested that RT might be a more crucial factor in response time during visual
vigilance performance. The finding that loud classical music induced greater impairment than industrial
noise is a unique finding. It should be recognized that loud sounds whether deemedenjoyable or not can
adversely affect performance.
Male participants were more adversely affected by hard rock music in comparison to females during
simple vigilant performance. One common thread prominent in hard rock music utilized for this study
and popular today is the abundance of bass. The preference for this type of music may be affected
by many variables, including gender, individuality, or psychoticism [44]. As reported by McCown
and colleagues [44], males prefer music containing additional bass. In a survey study conducted by
McCown [44], 73 of 85 vehicles with enhanced speakers to reproduce exaggerated bass sounds were
driven by males. Hence, similar to the distracting effect of loud noise for both genders, the bass-induced
arousal in males would interfere with the cognitive processing associated with simple vigilance [47].
However, non-conscious perception RT did not show similar results in the present study.
4.2. Non-conscious masking performance and sound type
Whereas, conscious recognition and reaction to stimuli are obviously important to movement per-
formances such as driving, the non-conscious perception of stimuli also contributes to the successful
execution of rapid tasks. Similar to previous research [36,46], the current study revealed metacontrast
dissociation, which signifies non-conscious perception. However, RT did not show any significant dif-
ferences to the level of sound volume during the metacontrast-masking test even though the simple
vigilance task reported detrimental effects to loud volumes. One postulation could be that the stimuli for
this non-conscious task are more centrally processed as opposed to the simple vigilance task. The simple
vigilance task encompasses peripheral field of vision as well. It has been reported in the literature that
loud volumes distract response time to peripheral stimuli, but not centrally located stimuli [5]. It was
demonstrated by Beh and Hirst [5] that participant’s response times were facilitated by exposure to both
quiet and loud music conditions. However, high volume music impaired response times to peripheral
signals. Thus, the intensity of the music may not have an effect during the non-conscious perception
task due to the centrally located stimuli.
Another possible postulation is that visual stimuli are processed via varying pathways within the CNS,
which is known as the two-system theory [29]. According to Goodale and Humphrey [30] there may be a
separation in processing visual stimuli via the dorsal pathwayor the ventral pathway. The non-conscious
may be more centrally processed via the dorsal pathway; whereasthe simple vigilance stimuli may have
been processed via the ventral pathway [29]. Therefore, the different processing routes of the visual
stimuli may be a factor as to why loud volume sounds have a greater affect on the simple vigilant task.
Another interesting finding in the current study was the observation that hard rock music improved
RT when data were collapsed over volume of sound and metacontrast condition. In previous studies,
hard rock music has been shown to facilitate simple performance [43,59,64]. According to Turner and
colleagues [64], the arousing and stimulating nature of hard rock music may enhance speed of reaction
to particular stimuli.
B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate 165
4.3. Sound and simulated driving (SimD)
In the present study, loud sound volumes significantly increased SimD times per lap. According to
Spinney [59], rock music played at moderate intensities (55 dB (A)) facilitated driving performance and
may provide for optimal driving conditions; whereas, loud intensities (85 dB (A)) of rock music are
detrimental to driving performance. Due to the distracting effect of loud sound volumes during SimD,
the participants of the current study were unable to match the lap times of the lower sound volumes. As
previously stated, the louder volumes seem to require greater cognitive processing within the CNS.
There were no significant differences in the volume of sound on SimD crashes, yet, the type and
intensity of sound in the current study affected SimD crashes. Quiet volumes of hard rock and classical
musicincreasedthe numberofcrashesin comparisontoquietindustrial noise. Duringthequiet intensities,
the level of sound is at an approximate equivalent to a quiet office space [49]. During quiet industrial
noise exposure there was little requirement for central processing. However, during exposure to quiet
volumes of hard rock and classical music the lyrics of the music were heard as a whisper. Therefore,
CNS processing may have increased to more fully appreciate the music being played. Furthermore,
Turner and colleagues [64] reported that lower and higher music volumes (60 dB (A) and 80 dB (A))
were detrimental to driving performance, whereas a moderate level of intensity was determined optimal.
The current study reported that males on average had faster SimD times than females. According to
previous research [52,53] males are superior to females in terms of visuomotor and visuospatial attention
skills. Therefore, females may haveshown greater caution during the SimD task.
5. Heart rate and sound
During both recordings of experimental and accommodation HR, male HR was significantly lower
than female HR. However, this may be simply due to the population tested. Prior to the testing, the
resting HR was recorded and male HR was lower during this measure as well.
Further data analysis demonstrated that accommodation HR increased during exposure to hard rock
music. Random noise has also been shown to increase HR [22]. Whereas a 4.2% increase in heart rate
might not be considered to be substantial, it can be an indication of the increased effect of sound on the
sympathetic system [23]. It is known that rhythms of the respiratory system and heart closely resemble
that of musical beats [7]. Auditory inputs have been shown to produce entrainment in respiratory timing
and thus, music may be able to modify breathing frequency [40,62]. With entrainment activating an
arousing response [62], the music-induced increase in HR may depend upon the amplitude, tempo and
rhythm of the input [5–7,9]. Hence, the high tempo hard rock music influenced the accommodationHR
in this study.
The current study also reported that experimental HR increased during exposure to high volume
sounds. Previous research has demonstrated that loud noise may increase irritability and stress, such
as heart rate and blood pressure due to the increased sympathetic response [22,42]. Further, research
has discovered that loud sounds, either chronic or acute may increase stress, as well as cardiovascular
measures [8,23,28]. Thus, similar to previous studies, the high volume sound increased HR during the
experimental sessions.
6. Conclusions
The current study demonstrated that intensity and type of sound could have detrimental effects on
driving-related tasks. High volume sounds decrease simple vigilance and SimD performance tasks.
166 B.H. Dalton et al. / Effects of sound on task performance and heart rate
Similar to loud noise levels, these decrements may be a result of greater arousal and stress levels,
associated with greater processing within the CNS. Further, high volume soundsmay also be distracting,
thus taking away from concentration and attention needed for driving performance.
7. Research implications
Listening to loud volumes of popular music is a trendy ritual during today’s automobile transits.
However, this act may affect concurrent tasks involved in automobile control due to detrimental effects
on RT and MT. When driving at 100 km/hr, an approximate 20% decrease in RT and 10% increase in
MT would result in the car coming to stop 2–3 metres farther than when not subjectedto loud volumes.
Although, 2–3 metres may not a first glance seem substantial, it could certainly be catastrophic to the
pedestrian who inadvertently and suddenly walks in front of your moving vehicle.
More so, the popular choice of music to escort today’s male drivers is hard rock. Yet males are most
susceptible to its detrimental effects. Hard rock music impairs male RT more so than females. From
one perspective, hard rock music may seem to be an excellent choice due to its facilitation response
during centrally located stimuli. However, there are other decrements that may outweigh this benefit.
The present study reported hard rock music increased SimD crashes, which may leadto speculation that
attention is decreased during this type of auditory stimuli. Therefore, not only does the volume level of
music one listens to, but also the type of music one listens to may magnify driving capabilities related
to attention and concentration. However, one limitation to the current study was the varying tempos of
the background conditions. Yet, it is still safe to state that the listening amplitude and type of musical
selection should be taken into consideration before venturing onto the busy roadways.
Acknowledgements
A grant from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada supported this
research.
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Research indicates that monotonous automated driving increases the incidence of fatigued driving. Although many prediction models based on advanced machine learning techniques were proposed to monitor driver fatigue, especially in manual driving, little is known about how these black-box machine learning models work. In this paper, we proposed a combination of eXtreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost) and SHAP (SHapley Additive exPlanations) to predict driver fatigue with explanations due to their efficiency and accuracy. First, in order to obtain the ground truth of driver fatigue, PERCLOS (percentage of eyelid closure over the pupil over time) between 0 and 100 was used as the response variable. Second, we built a driver fatigue regression model using both physiological and behavioral measures with XGBoost and it outperformed other selected machine learning models with 3.847 root-mean-squared error (RMSE), 1.768 mean absolute error (MAE) and 0.996 adjusted R 2. Third, we employed SHAP to identify the most important predictor variables and uncovered the black-box XGBoost model by showing the main effects of most important predictor variables globally and explaining individual predictions locally. Such an explainable driver fatigue prediction model offered insights into how to intervene in automated driving when necessary, such as during the takeover transition period from automated driving to manual driving.
... For example, McCown et al. (1997) reported that loud music, particularly with exaggerated bass sounds, interfered with the cognitive processing associated with simple vigilance. Dalton et al. (2007) examined driving performance with music and found that male reaction time was adversely affected by hard rock music. In contrast, Communicated by Westerterp/Westerblad. ...
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Listening to music while running alters ground reaction forces: a study of acute exposure to varying speed and loud-ness levels in young women and men. Eur J Appl Physiol 120:1391-1401. As soon as our paper was in print (Manca et al. 2020), we started receiving several emails from colleagues, scholars , and researchers with constructive feedback ranging from true appreciation of the original idea that prompted the study, to potential implications of the findings and/or alternative views and interpretations. Unfortunately, at that point in time, the inclusion of further elaborations was no longer possible. However, we feel that transparent sharing of these reflections with the broad community of physiologists, sports scientists, bioengineers, and clinicians engaged in similar research areas would be useful and ethically important to advance the knowledge in this field and, most importantly , ensure a diversity of views and thoughts on which scientific debate is founded. Briefly, in our study we found that listening to loud music while running at relatively slow and comfortable speeds (8-10 km/h) resulted in increased ground reaction force in young men but not in women. We attempted to explain the lack of influence of music in women by referring to their larger hip width-to-femoral length ratio, which could lead to a higher valgus Q-angle and in turn account for different loading patterns and larger energy absorption at the hip and knee level. Such a structural and mechanically-oriented explanation was endorsed but also disputed by other colleagues, who suggested leg length rather than the hip width-to-femoral length ratio as the main factor that may have contributed to the sex-based differences in ground reaction force. As commonly observed, our female runners were significantly shorter than men, their leg length was also shorter, and consequently their step cadence higher. Nevertheless, this did not emerge in a significant manner, possibly because we controlled for this factor by asking the subjects to run on a treadmill. Indeed, the constrained speed of the treadmill dictated the runner's cadence. However, Heiderscheit et al. (2011) showed that even subtle increases in step rate can substantially reduce hip and knee loading as well as the vertical excursion of the center of gravity. As our female runners had to adjust their running mechanics to comply with the speed imposed by the treadmill (which was supposedly not as comfortable as for men), we suggest that on the whole, such subtle, compensatory adjustments could limit or even cancel the effect of music on their ground reaction force. However, the mechanical explanations were not so compelling for other colleagues who were more inclined to link the music-induced change in ground reaction force observed only in men to the cognitive-attentive domain since the structural configuration of the individual will not change depending on the music. For example, McCown et al. (1997) reported that loud music, particularly with exaggerated bass sounds, interfered with the cognitive processing associated with simple vigilance. Dalton et al. (2007) examined driving performance with music and found that male reaction time was adversely affected by hard rock music. In contrast, Communicated by Westerterp/Westerblad.
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