Top 40 memory-triggering sounds include birdsong, a waterfall and waves crashing

A study of 2,000 adults was commissioned by Specsavers and found only only 26 per cent have had their hearing checked by an audiologist despite despite it deteriorating with age

The sound of a cat purring can be soothing (Image: Getty Images)

Birdsong, a waterfall and waves crashing on the shore are among the sounds most likely to trigger happy memories.

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.

What are your favourite sounds? Join the discussion in the comment section

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.

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.

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.”

Top 40 memory-triggering sounds according to the over 40s

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

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