The Impact of Silence on the Brain

We often hear people say, “I wish I could just get away
for 15 minutes of peace and quiet.” Without realizing it,
people are actually identifying a physiological reason for
wanting the peace and quiet. Besides knowing that it just
feels good, the silence actually helps the brain.

In an excellent article in the July 2016 edition of the
magazine, Nautilus, Daniel Gross identifies how moments of
silence benefit the brain.

Research has shown that too much noise creates stress,
causes hypertension, and even affects the rhythm and rate
of one’s heart.

Research has also discovered the following 2 findings
about silence:

#1 Silence can create new brain cells: A 2013 research
project found that 2 hours of silence per day prompted the
growth of new cells in the hippocampus, the region of the
brain related to the formation of memory involving the

#2 Silence encourages self-reflection: Researchers have
found that the “resting” brain, when not processing a lot
of external stimuli, is indeed active. In default mode,
the brain is engaged in the psychological task of
reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics
(i.e., self-reflection).

The need for silence has grown over the years as evidenced
by the number of weeklong silent meditation courses and
the huge upswing in purchases of noise-canceling

To prove that people seek silence, part of Finland’s
effort to rebrand itself includes comments about the
“retreat value” of its quiet lakes and forests. Thanks to
Finland, we are now seeing silence as a resource that can
be marketed like clean water.

We really don’t need to go to Finland or go on a weeklong
retreat to get silence. By simply changing our behaviors,
we can capture moments of silence such as no radio in the
car, walking without a headset, no TV for the first 30
minutes in the morning, and many other ways we can help
our brains reboot.


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