Memory Triggers

Top 25 memory-triggering sounds include birdsong, a waterfall and waves crashing
Posted on 09/27/2021
Decorative and graphical representation of sound wavesA study of 2,000 adults, aged 50 and over, found four in 10 people experience sounds that prompt nostalgic thoughts a couple of times a week - while one in 10 people experience this daily.

Sound is also said to set off the best memories ahead of sight and even smell, according to the research. Others said a cat purring, trees blowing in the wind, a crackling fireplace and church bells would take them to another place in their memories. For some, rain on the windows, sheep bleating and a train going over tracks are enough to make them smile.

Gordon Harrison, chief audiologist at Specsavers, which commissioned the research, said: "Sound impacts most aspects of our lives, so it is no surprise that certain sounds trigger happy youthful memories - particularly when it comes to sounds of the outdoor.

"However, given the importance of our hearing, it is important to be checked out regularly to ensure such memories aren't lost along with reduced hearing."

The kettle boiling, the radio playing and airplanes flying overhead, also featured in the top 40 positively-triggering sounds, according to the over 50s.

Sounds from the outdoors trigger good times for 67 per cent of adults, which is why 78 per cent tend to spend lots of time outside.

Top 25 memory-triggering sounds according to the over 40s
1. A specific song or piece of music
2. Waves crashing on the shore
3. Birdsong
4. A crackling fireplace
5. Walking on fresh snow
6. A waterfall
7. Cat purring
8. Trees blowing in the wind
9. Rain on the window pane
10. Rustling leaves
11. Church bells
12. Bees buzzing
13. A thunderstorm
14. Rain patter on leaves
15. Children playing outside
16. Lawns being mown
17. A fountain
18. The radio playing
19. Sheep baaing
20. Seagulls squawking
21. A train going over tracks
22. Cows mooing
23. A cork popping
24. Dinner being served up
25. Pouring a drink