Mathias Basner

Why noise is bad for your health — and what you can do about it

Share This Talk

TEDMED Talks are available, free to the world, thanks to our partners.

About Mathias Basner

Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, MSc is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. His primary research interests concern the effects of sleep loss on neurobehavioral and cognitive functions, population studies on sleep time and waking activities, the effects of traffic noise on sleep and health, and Astronaut behavioral health on long-duration space missions. These research areas overlap widely. Mathias has published 80+ journal articles and reviewed articles for 80+ scientific journals. He is currently on the editorial board of the journals Sleep Health and Frontiers in Physiology.

Between 1999 and 2008, Mathias conducted several large scale laboratory and field studies on the effects of traffic noise on sleep at the German Aerospace Center. For this research, Mathias was awarded the German Aerospace Center Research Award in 2007 and the Science Award of the German Academy for Aviation and Travel Medicine in 2010. Mathias developed an ECG-based algorithm for the automatic identification of autonomic activations associated with cortical arousal that was used in several field studies to non-invasively assess the effects of aircraft noise on sleep. He is currently funded by FAA to obtain current exposure-response functions describing the effects of aircraft noise on sleep for the United States. Mathias has been an advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the effects of traffic noise on sleep and health on a number of occasions. He performed a systematic evidence review on the effects of noise on sleep for the recently published revision of WHO’s Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region. Mathias is currently President of the International Commission of Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) and member of the Impacts and Science Group of the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He also represents the University of Pennsylvania in FAA’s Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT).

Find out more

About This Talk

People are bombarded by noise every day. Sometimes it’s loud and inescapable, like the sound of construction happening outside your window, and other times it’s quiet, like the hum of a fan that fades into the background. Either way, unwanted noise is stressful, and most people have limited opportunities to be in a quiet space and truly unwind.

Psychiatrist and scientist Mathias Basner studies how noise negatively affects our health in ways that extend beyond the auditory component. In his work, he draws connections between noise exposure and an array of health issues ranging from poor sleep to cardiovascular disease. Tune in to Mathias’s 2018 TEDMED Talk to learn more about the many things we can do on both an individual and societal level to better protect ourselves from noise and to foster the health benefits of silence. 

Other Talks from TEDMED 2018