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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 62  |  Page : 2-5
Noise and Performance: Research in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and Newly Independent States

Institute of Hygiene and Medical Ecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Dr. Subotica 8, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

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Date of Web Publication14-Feb-2013

Researches on noise and performance in central and Eastern Europe and South-East Europe countries and Newly Independent States have been performed in last 40 years in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics, Russia, Serbia and Yugoslavia, mainly at universities in the capitals. In laboratory studies the effects of noise have been studied on vigilance, visual performance, attention, information perception and processing, reaction time, short term memory and spatial reasoning. The field studies focused on the relation between chronic exposure to community noise and children's behavior and executive functioning (EF) and between industrial noise and occupational injuries. These studies were mainly complementary to the studies in Western Europe.

Keywords: Attention, behavior, injuries, memory, noise, vigilance

How to cite this article:
Belojevic G. Noise and Performance: Research in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and Newly Independent States. Noise Health 2013;15:2-5

How to cite this URL:
Belojevic G. Noise and Performance: Research in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and Newly Independent States. Noise Health [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Jun 1];15:2-5. Available from: https://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2013/15/62/2/107146

  Introduction Top

The very first literature I have studied as a young researcher in the field of noise and performance were the proceedings of the International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, held in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia from 13 to 18 May, 1973. One of the most prominent papers in this document was a brilliant review on noise, performance and behavior, written by a Romanian psychologist Edith Gullian. [1] The scientists from other side of the "iron curtain" had the opportunity to hear this fine researcher presenting also the results of experiments performed in the Institute of Psychology, Bucharest. Gullian showed that there was less adaptation and greater decline in performance level for intermittent noise than for continuous one. [2] In another experiment she compared the percentage of errors and reaction time in three vigilance tasks of different difficulty level, under quiet, 70 dB noise and 90 dB noise, and found a clear-cut interaction between noise and difficulty level, particularly with respect to an auditory vigilance task, which was a very difficult one. [3] Studying differences between introverts and extroverts while performing in noise Gullian found significant difference in arousal level measured by skin conductance, being higher in introverts. [4]

Dubrovnik 1973 and the three following congresses of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise in Freiburg 1978, Turin 1983 and Stockholm 1988 were the best opportunities to overcome difficulties of scientific communication in the field of noise and performance before the fall of the "iron curtain." Having the privilege of possessing the proceedings of these congresses my review of the research on noise and performance in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), South-East Europe (SEE) countries and Newly Independent States (NIS) before the nineties of the 20 th century will mainly be based on papers and references published in these proceedings. From the nineties on, PubMed may be regarded as a relevant database for researches from both sides of the previous "curtain." Of course, Edith Gullian was not the very first researcher from CEE countries who did studies on noise and performance but I have not designed this review as a chronological list of studies from the mentioned countries. This review has also a strong personal touch and I felt free to have my favorites.

This will be my choice of the most relevant studies on noise and performance from CEE and SEE countries and NIS, presented in alphabetical order, namely: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, USSR and Yugoslavia.


From 1970 to 1976, a series of experiments on young healthy male subjects was carried out in the Research Institute for Hygiene and Professional Diseasesin Sofia. Sound stimuli were white noise, aircraft noise, traffic noise and industrial noise. The noise levels varied from 40 to 100 dB (A) and the duration of exposure ranged from relatively short term (a few minutes), to relatively long term (3h) periods. Dependent psychomotor variables that were studied were: Handling of visual information, positioning of hand in space and reproduction of muscle force. It was found that noise induced increased deviation of hand and increased muscle exertion if compared with the aimed-at position and force, respectively. Concerning visual information, the number of mistakes increased and the subjects needed more time to handle information. [5],[6],[7]

A research team from the National Center of Hygiene, Medical Ecology and Nutrition, Sofia, Bulgaria studied the masking effect of three types of music and of "white" masking noise.The signal-to-noise relation was found to be the most significant factor affecting spoken information perception, regardless of the type of music used as masking agent. The types of music used (modern, classical, playback) showed no appreciable differences in masking, remaining at the same time stronger masking factors compared to "white" noise. [8] The same team studied the influence of masking broad-band (white), impulse and interrupted noise with equivalent noise level L eq 60 and 90 dB (A) on conduction of mathematical calculations and information processing.It was found that the masking noise effect was more strongly expressed in the execution of tasks connected with the main memory. [9] In another study Tsaneva investigated the masking effect of three types of music and white masking noise upon special oral information processing. The most important factor influencing oral information processing was stimulus-noise ratio. There were no differences between the types of music (modern and classic) in masking being in the same way stronger maskers than white noise. [10]


Zdenka Jelinkova from the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Prague, Czechoslovakia performed experiments exposing humans of different noise sensitivity to noise of L eq 75 dB (A), while performing a Bourdon test of vigilance and visual performance. A negative correlation was found between results in Bourdon test in noise and sensitivity, while in quiet performance did not depend on sensitivity to noise. A comparison of the subjects with a low, average and high score on the Weinstein's self rating scale of noise sensitivity showed that the three groups had equally balanced performance in Bourdon test under quiet, while in noise, sensitive subjects showed the worst results. [11]

FYR Macedonia

Gordana Ristovska and collaborators from the National Public Health Institute of FYR Macedonia performed a study in Skopje aiming to investigate the psychosocial effects of chronic noise exposure in children. Teachers rated children's behavior with an Attention Deficit Disorder Questionnaire. Children exposed to L eq , 8 h > 55 dB (A) had significantly decreased attention, decreased social adaptability and increased opposing behavior in their relations to other people compared to children exposed to noise level L eq , 8 h < 55 dB (A). [12]


The research team lead by Éva Banko from Semmelweis University in Budapest investigated the effect of phase noise on sensory processing and task difficulty. Task difficulty was changed either by adding noise to the stimuli or by adjusting the female/male characteristics of the face images. It was found that the presence of noise and not the increased overall task difficulty affected the electrophysiological responses in the first 300 ms following stimulus onset in humans. These results did not support previous results of a task-difficulty as a mediating component between the early sensory processing and the later sensory accumulation stages of perceptual decision making. [13]


RÉta Ustinaviciene and Loreta Piesine from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Kaunas University of Medicine, investigated the relation of occupational noise and injuries at work. A study was carried out in four textile companies in Kaunas with 1842 employees, investigating the relationship between occupational noise and injuries at work. Workers exposed to noise levels from 88 dB (A) to 96 dB (A) had significantly more sick leaves due to injury compared to workers exposed to noise levels below 85 dB (A). Injuries were more frequent among men compared to women ([9.90 and 6.57 cases/100 workers/year], respectively [ P < 0.05]). [14]


In a series of experiments performed in the Central Institute of Work Protection, Warsaw, Irena Franszczuk found that a noise band of median frequency of 4000 Hz and level 80-85 dB prolonged average simple reaction time in comparison with the average reaction time in silence. The simple reaction time measure was closely connected with the subjective feeling of annoyance. [15]

Malgorzata Pawlaczyk-≤uszczyρska and the research team from Department of Physical Hazards, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, LσdŸ, performed a study on 193 male subjects in three different acoustic conditions: Background laboratory noise of about 30 dB (A), low frequency noise (LFN) and the broadband noise at comparable dB (A) levels of 50 dB. Four standardized performance tests were used: The Signal Detection Test, the Stroop Color-Word Test, the Math Reasoning Test and the Comparing of Names Test.LFN at 50 dB (A) was perceived as annoying and adversely affecting mental performance (concentration and visual perception), particularly in persons sensitive to LFN. [16] The same team did another study on LFN at a level of 50 dB (A) and mental performance of 96 subjects, aged 19-27 years, with regard to their LFN sensitivity. A reference acoustical condition was broadbandnoise of the same level. It was found that LFN adversely affected visual functions, concentration, continuous and selective attention, especially in subjects highly-sensitive to LFN. [17]


The research team from the University of Bucharest lead by Chraif investigated the influence of radio noise (75 dB) and of sleep deprivation on short term memory and attention in 125 subjects aged between 19 and 26 years. In a reactivity test to multiple stimuli better results concerning the correct answers and the mean of the reaction times were detected in noise compared to quiet conditions. [18]


The research team from the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, founded that auditory rhythmic stimulation at 0.75 Hz decreased motor reaction times in solving cognitive tasks as compared with rhythmic stimulation at 1.25 Hz and task solution without rhythmic stimulation. Subjective assessments of the durations of series also decreased. [19]


In a joint study research teams from Belgrade University and Cornell University investigated the relationships between noise and school children's EF. The study included children aged 7-11 years, who lived in the center of Belgrade. While there were no significant main effects of ambient noise levels on EF, a significant noise-gender interaction was found, indicating adverse noise impacts on boy's EF only. [20]


Mariniako and Lipovoi studied the effects of LFN on performance and found that while intermittent noise of middle and high frequencies had greater adverse effect on performance than continuous one, the reverse was true for LFN. [21]


Studies on noise and performance in Yugoslavia were carried out at the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering (lead researcher was Staniša Miloševiζ) and the Institute of Hygiene and Medical Ecology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Belgrade (lead researcher was Goran Belojeviζ).

In an experiment with visual vigilance task in quiet and in noise (100 dB) no effects of noise either upon the overall performance or upon the vigilance decrement were observed. [22]

Several studies on noise and performance were performed in the nineties of the 20 th century at the School of Medicine, University of Belgrade in cooperation with the Institute of Environmental Medicine, University of Gothenburg. These studies were focused on individual factors, namely age, subjective noise sensitivity, extra/introversion and neuroticism, which affect performance in noise. [23] It was found that people with more stable personality, with extroversive behavior and with a lower subjective noise sensitivity may be expected to show relatively better results in mental performance tasks in noise, compared to people with the opposite personality traits.In a laboratory study, the effects of noise on short term memory, vigilance, spatial reasoning and parallel processing were investigated in 45 medical students. In noisy conditions (55 dBL Aeq and dBL Aeq ), the lowest performance accuracy in vigilance and parallel processing tests was demonstrated by the noise-sensitive subjects. [24] In another experimental study a mental arithmetic was performed by 123 medical students under quiet (42 dBL Aeq ) and noisy laboratory conditions (recorded traffic noise, 88 dBL Aeq ). Eysenck Personality Questionnaire was used to investigate extra/introvertion. As compared to quiet conditions, extroverts performed significantly faster in noise, whilst introverts had pronounced problems with concentration and fatigue. [25] A leave based study in a textile factory showed that injury-leaves from noisy departments were as much as three times more frequent among younger workers compared to the older ones. [26] Using injury frequency and injury severity rates as dependent variables it was found that, contrary to younger workers, in older workers injuries were more frequent and more severe in low noise departments of a textile plant (86 dB) compared to high noise department (104 dBL Aeq ). [27] When a mental arithmetic task was applied under quiet (42 dBL Aeq ) and noisy laboratory conditions (recorded traffic noise, 60 dB L Aeq ) the level of neuroticism estimated with Eysenck Personality Questionnaire was negatively related to accuracy and speed of mental processing in noise. [28]

  Conclusions Top

There has been a lively research activity on noise and performance in numerous CEE, SEE and NIS countries in the last 40 years. These studies were mainly complementary to the studies in Western Europe and encountered the effects of noise on main psychological functions of crucial importance for mental performance: Vigilance, attention, processing and memory. In spite of financial limitations, laboratory experiments dominate in these studies, which is somewhat different from studying other effects of noise on humans.In occupational settings, the investigations focused on the relation between noise and injuries.

  References Top

1.Gullian E. Psychological consequences of exposure to noise, facts and explanations. In: Ward WD, editor. Proceedings of the International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, May 13-18, 1973. Washington, D.C: The US. Environmental Protection Agency; 1973. p. 363-78.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Gullian E. Effects of noise on reaction time and induced muscle tension. Rev Roum Sci Soc Ser Psychol 1967;13:371-85.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Gullian E. On the weight factor "difficulty of proof" in determining the level of work performance in noise (In Romanian). Revista de Psihologie 1972;18:323-33.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Gullian E. Psychophysiological correlates of auditory vigilance under noise conditions in introverts and extraverts. Rev Roum Sci Soc Ser Psychol 1971;15:125-36.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Mosskov JI, Ettema JH. Experimental investigations into some extra-aural effects of exposure to noise. In: Tobias JV, Janssen G, Ward WD, editors. Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Freiburg, West Germany, September 25-29, 1978, ASHA Reports 10, Rockville. Maryland: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; 1980. p. 337-42.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Mosskov JI, Ettema JH. III. Extra-auditory effects in short-term exposure to noise from a textile factory. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 1977;40:174-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Mosskov JI, Ettema JH. IV. Extra-auditory effects in long-term exposure to aircraft and traffic noise. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 1977;40:177-84.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Tsaneva L, Danev S. The effect of different types of music on the perception of speech information. Probl Khig 1995;20:116-21.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Tsaneva L, Danev S, Dinkova K. Changes in some psychophysiological parameters in speech information processing under masking noise effect. Cent Eur J Public Health 1997;5:35-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Tsaneva L. Masking effect of music upon oral information processing. Cent Eur J Public Health 2003;11:173-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Jelinkova Z. Coping with noise in noise sensitive subjects. In: Berglund B, Berglund U, Karlsson J, Lindvall T, editors. Proceedings of the 5 th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Vol. 3. Stockholm: Swedish Council for Building Research; 1988. p. 27-30.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Ristovska G, Gjorgjev D, Pop Jordanova N. Psychosocial effects of community noise: Cross sectional study of school children in urban center of Skopje, Macedonia. Croat Med J 2004; 45:473-6.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Bankó EM, Gál V, Körtvélyes J, Kovács G, Vidnyánszky Z. Dissociating the effect of noise on sensory processing and overall decision difficulty. J Neurosci 2011;31:2663-74.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Ustinaviciene R, Piesine L. Morbidity of textile industry workers in Kaunas. Medicina (Kaunas) 2007;43:495-500.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Franszczuk I. The effect of annoying noise on some psychological functions during work. In: Ward WD, editor. Proceedings of the International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, May 13-18, 1973. Washington, D.C: The US. Environmental Protection Agency; 1973. p. 425-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Pawlaczyk-£uszczyñska M, Dudarewicz A, Waszkowska M, Szymczak W, Kamedu³a M, Sliwiñska-Kowalska M. The effect of low frequency noise on human mental performance. Med Pr 2004;55:63-74.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Pawlaczyk-Luszczyñiska M, Dudarewicz A, Waszkowska M, Szymczak W, Sliwiñska-Kowalska M. The impact of low-frequency noise on human mental performance. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2005;18:185-98.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Chraif M. The effects of radionoisein multiple time reaction tasks for young students. Proc Soc Behav Sci 2012;33:1057-62.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Portnova GV, Sysoeva OV, Ivanitskii AM. Psychophysiological studies of the effects of auditory rhythmic stimulation on subjective time counting and performance speed in cognitive tasks. Neurosci Behav Physiol 2011;41:928-35.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Belojevic G, Evans GW, Paunovic K, Jakovljevic B. Traffic noise and executive functioning in urban primary school children: The moderating role of gender. J Environ Psychol 2012;32:337-41.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Mariniako AZ, Lipovoĭ VV. Calculation of the total time of individual noise effects in the health assessment of intermittent noise. Gig Tr Prof Zabol 1972;16:15-8.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Miloseviæ S. Effects of noise on signal detection. Ergonomics 1983;26:939-46.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Belojevic G, Jakovljevic B, Slepcevic V. Noise and mental performance: Personality attributes and noise sensitivity. Noise Health 2003;6:77-89.  Back to cited text no. 23
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24.Belojeviæ G, Ohrström E, Rylander R. Effects of noise on mental performance with regard to subjective noise sensitivity. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 1992;64:293-301.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Belojevic G, Slepcevic V, Jakovljevic B. Mental performance in noise: The role of introversion. J Environ Psychol 2001;21:209-13.  Back to cited text no. 25
26.Belojeviæ G, Kocijanciæ R, Stankoviæ T. The importance of work conditions in the textile industry to worker absenteeism. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol 1990;41:25-34.  Back to cited text no. 26
27.Belojeviæ G, Kocijanèiæ R, Stankoviæ T. Injury rates in textile industry with regard to noise exposure. In: Vallet M, editor. Noise and Man' 93; Proceedings of the 6 th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, Vol. 2. Nice 5-9 Juillet 1993, Arcueil Cedex. France: National Institute for Research on Transport and Safety 1993. p. 489-92.  Back to cited text no. 27
28.Belojeviæ G, Slepèeviæ V, Jakovljeviæ B. Individual differences in mental processing under quiet and noisy laboratory conditions. Facta Universitatis 1999;1:46-9.  Back to cited text no. 28

Correspondence Address:
Goran Belojevic
Institute of Hygiene and Medical Ecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Dr. Subotica 8, 11000 Belgrade
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.107146

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