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What is it about the sound of running water that soothes the brain and the soul?

This is what I found on the internet:

Our species evolved where trees met savannahs and where freshwater sources were present. Our brains are deeply encoded with the love of water – we revel in the delicious feel and noise of burbling brooks…


I personal think we LOVE the sounds of running water because inside the womb of our mothers, that's what we hear...along with the sounds of her beating heart. I was told that we hear the blood running through her veins in utero.

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A researcher at out institute studying the effects of mindfulness mediation said that rain and other natural water sounds had strong alpha waves, inducing alpha wave activity in the human brain (which are correlated to relaxed, meditative states). I have no published source for this, but maybe you can find something with this hint. – what Mar 14 '14 at 15:11
I think something to consider on top of the other answers is association with being in utero. I think that being immersed in liquid while your brain and senses are just developing as a fetus must have some effect on you. I have no evidence to back this up, but it's a theory, and hopefully someone else can elaborate on this further. – DanTheGameMan Oct 19 at 17:27
Could you please add links to those quotes? Who are you quoting from what context? – Steven Jeuris Oct 20 at 11:14

2 Answers 2

I think the answer to this is on a question I did some time ago: Why does being in a natural environment induce some kind of "peace" state while mecha/tech ones induce the opposite?

We feel relaxed when listening to the sound of water, because we associate the sound to something like a beautiful waterfall, and to waterfalls/nature, the majority of us will associate peace, water has always been good to us, drinking water for example. Another example of "the things we use to consider good are the things that make us feel good" is the sound of birds telling there is no danger around, as Randy mentions in his answer to that question.

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It may have something to do with the manner in which the water flows. Disturbed or moving water has a frequency content/distribution that approaches noise (think ocean waves lapping up against the the shoreline/beach, which is close to white noise).

Our hearing system tends to tune out when presented with white noise, mainly due to there being no discernible pattern in the sound for the hearing system to focus on. The mind then starts to drift (excuse the pun) ...

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