Top 50 sounds most likely to trigger happy memories.

By Richard Jenkins
Friday, 10th September 2021, 1:13 pm

A 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.

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    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.

    Sound of outdoors

    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.

    And of the 94 per cent who have access to their own outdoor space, they’ll spend an average of five hours in it every week – with 72 per cent referring to it as their ‘happy place’.

    More than three quarters also said that as they grow older, they treasure their happy memories more.

    In the study, more than half of respondents admit their hearing has deteriorated with age. However, only 26 per cent have had it checked by an audiologist.

    And nine in 10 confessed they took their hearing for granted in their younger years, according to the research carried out through OnePoll.

    Happiness and relaxation

    Feelings of happiness, peace and relaxation are felt by respondents when they hear sounds of the natural world – with 91 per cent spending a lot of time outdoors.

    So it’s no surprise that 45 per cent worry about their hearing getting worse, therefore losing the potential to have pleasurable memories triggered in their mind.

    Broadcaster and Countryfile presenter, John Craven, understands this first-hand. He said: “I started wearing hearing aids 15 years ago when I realised I wasn’t hearing certain voices and sounds.

    “Outdoors I wasn’t hearing the gentler sounds of nature that everyone else was.

    "But hearing aids have solved that problem and it is a real delight to experience the rustle of leaves, the pitter-patter of raindrops, the distant roar of thunder as well as anyone with normal hearing.”

    Gordon Harrison, Specsavers chief audiologist, added: “Hearing loss is common and affects people of all ages.

    “There are a range of hearing aids to suit all lifestyles, budgets and hearing needs so no one needs to suffer in silence and can keep revisiting their memories for years to come.”


    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

    26.         Mail being delivered

    27.         Food cooking on the hob

    28.         Cicadas humming

    29.         Sports stadium/arena

    30.         The kettle boiling

    31.         An airplane flying overhead

    32.         A crowd cheering

    33.         Horses galloping

    34.         A beer bottle/tin being opened

    35.         Dog barking

    36.         Fish jumping out of water

    37.         Street entertainers

    38.         A toaster popping

    39.         A coffee grinder

    40.         A garden sprinkler