• Question: What made you want to study about sound and distraction?

    Asked by made366web to Sarah on 12 Nov 2019.
    • Photo: Sarah Knight

      Sarah Knight answered on 12 Nov 2019:

      Thanks for your question! I actually used to want to be a professional musician: my undergraduate degree was in Music, and I was planning to be a clarinettist. But during my degree I became very interested in how we hear sound, and realised that I was more interested in the psychology of music than playing the clarinet! My early research was about sound, but instead of distraction and speech I was more interested in things like how we’re able to hear rhythm and how we’re able to coordinate our actions with other people (like when we dance or play music). I then started thinking about how rhythm in music is related to rhythm in speech, and after a while I become more and more focused on speech rather than music. And only THEN did I start to be interested in how background noise distracts us from listening to speech — something which is very relevant to me, as I find listening in background noise really hard! Like all of the research I’ve done, distraction is both about hearing and about the way our brains interpret the sounds we hear — I find this interaction between ears and brains really interesting 🙂 So I’ve studied lots of things over the years, but they’ve all been about hearing/brains, and all very interesting!