What if a few painless electrical zaps to your brain could help you recall names, perform better on Wordle or even ward off dementia?
This is where neuroscientists are going in efforts to stave off age-related memory loss as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Medications have shown limited effectiveness in reversing or managing loss of brain function so far. But new studies suggest that firing up an aging neural network with electrical or magnetic current might keep brains spry as we age.
Welcome to non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS). No surgery or anesthesia is required. One day, a jolt in the morning with your own battery-operated kit could replace your wake-up coffee.
Scientists believe brain circuits tend to uncouple as we age. Since brain neurons communicate by exchanging electrical impulses with each other, the breakdown of these links and associations could be what causes the “senior moment”—when you can’t remember the name of the movie you just watched.
In 2019, Boston University researchers led by Robert Reinhart, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, showed that memory loss in healthy older adults is likely caused by these disconnected brain networks. When Reinhart and his team stimulated two key areas of the brain with mild electrical current, they were able to bring the brains of older adult subjects back into sync — enough so that their ability to remember small differences between two images matched that of much younger subjects for at least 50 minutes after the testing stopped.
Reinhart wowed the neuroscience community once again this fall. His newer study in Nature Neuroscience presented 150 healthy participants, ages 65 to 88, who were able to recall more words on a given list after 20 minutes of low-intensity electrical stimulation sessions over four consecutive days. This amounted to a 50 to 65 percent boost in their recall.
Even Reinhart was surprised to discover the enhanced performance of his subjects lasted a full month when they were tested again later. Those who benefited most were the participants who were the most forgetful at the start.
An older person participates in Robert Reinhart's research on brain stimulation.
Reinhart’s subjects only suffered normal age-related memory deficits, but NIBS has great potential to help people with cognitive impairment and dementia, too, says Krista Lanctôt, the Bernick Chair of Geriatric Psychopharmacology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto. Plus, “it is remarkably safe,” she says.
Lanctôt was the senior author on a meta-analysis of brain stimulation studies published last year on people with mild cognitive impairment or later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The review concluded that magnetic stimulation to the brain significantly improved the research participants’ neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as apathy and depression. The stimulation also enhanced global cognition, which includes memory, attention, executive function and more.
This is the frontier of neuroscience.
The two main forms of NIBS – and many questions surrounding them
There are two types of NIBS. They differ based on whether electrical or magnetic stimulation is used to create the electric field, the type of device that delivers the electrical current and the strength of the current.
Transcranial Current Brain Stimulation (tES) is an umbrella term for a group of techniques using low-wattage electrical currents to manipulate activity in the brain. The current is delivered to the scalp or forehead via electrodes attached to a nylon elastic cap or rubber headband.
Variations include how the current is delivered—in an alternating pattern or in a constant, direct mode, for instance. Tweaking frequency, potency or target brain area can produce different effects as well. Reinhart’s 2022 study demonstrated that low or high frequencies and alternating currents were uniquely tied to either short-term or long-term memory improvements.
Sessions may be 20 minutes per day over the course of several days or two weeks. “[The subject] may feel a tingling, warming, poking or itching sensation,” says Reinhart, which typically goes away within a minute.
The other main approach to NIBS is Transcranial Magnetic Simulation (TMS). It involves the use of an electromagnetic coil that is held or placed against the forehead or scalp to activate nerve cells in the brain through short pulses. The stimulation is stronger than tES but similar to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
The subject may feel a slight knocking or tapping on the head during a 20-to-60-minute session. Scalp discomfort and headaches are reported by some; in very rare cases, a seizure can occur.
No head-to-head trials have been conducted yet to evaluate the differences and effectiveness between electrical and magnetic current stimulation, notes Lanctôt, who is also a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto. Although TMS was approved by the FDA in 2008 to treat major depression, both techniques are considered experimental for the purpose of cognitive enhancement.
“One attractive feature of tES is that it’s inexpensive—one-fifth the price of magnetic stimulation,” Reinhart notes.
Don’t confuse either of these procedures with the horrors of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the 1950s and ‘60s. ECT is a more powerful, riskier procedure used only as a last resort in treating severe mental illness today.
Clinical studies on NIBS remain scarce. Standardized parameters and measures for testing have not been developed. The high heterogeneity among the many existing small NIBS studies makes it difficult to draw general conclusions. Few of the studies have been replicated and inconsistencies abound.
Scientists are still lacking so much fundamental knowledge about the brain and how it works, says Reinhart. “We don’t know how information is represented in the brain or how it’s carried forward in time. It’s more complex than physics.”
Lanctôt’s meta-analysis showed improvements in global cognition from delivering the magnetic form of the stimulation to people with Alzheimer’s, and this finding was replicated inan analysis in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease this fall. Neither meta-analysis found clear evidence that applying the electrical currents, was helpful for Alzheimer’s subjects, but Lanctôt suggests this might be merely because the sample size for tES was smaller compared to the groups that received TMS.
At the same time, London neuroscientist Marco Sandrini, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Roehampton, critically reviewed a series of studies on the effects of tES on episodic memory. Often declining with age, episodic memory relates to recalling a person’s own experiences from the past. Sandrini’s review concluded that delivering tES to the prefrontal or temporoparietal cortices of the brain might enhance episodic memory in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and amnesiac mild cognitive impairment (the predementia phase of Alzheimer’s when people start to have symptoms).
Researchers readily tick off studies needed to explore, clarify and validate existing NIBS data. What is the optimal stimulus session frequency, spacing and duration? How intense should the stimulus be and where should it be targeted for what effect? How might genetics or degree of brain impairment affect responsiveness? Would adjunct medication or cognitive training boost positive results? Could administering the stimulus while someone sleeps expedite memory consolidation?
Using MRI or another brain scan along with computational modeling of the current flow, a clinician could create a treatment that is customized to each person’s brain.
While Sandrini’s review reported improvements induced by tES in the recall or recognition of words and images, there is no evidence it will translate into improvements in daily activities. This is another question that will require more research and testing, Sandrini notes.
Scientists are still lacking so much fundamental knowledge about the brain and how it works, says Reinhart. “We don’t know how information is represented in the brain or how it’s carried forward in time. It’s more complex than physics.”
Where the science is headed
Learning how to apply precision medicine to NIBS is the next focus in advancing this technology, says Shankar Tumati, a post-doctoral fellow working with Lanctôt.
There is great variability in each person’s brain anatomy—the thickness of the skull, the brain’s unique folds, the amount of cerebrospinal fluid. All of these structural differences impact how electrical or magnetic stimulation is distributed in the brain and ultimately the effects.
Using MRI or another brain scan along with computational modeling of the current flow, a clinician could create a treatment that is customized to each person’s brain, from where to put the electrodes to determining the exact dose and duration of stimulation needed to achieve lasting results, Sandrini says.
Above all, most neuroscientists say that largescale research studies over long periods of time are necessary to confirm the safety and durability of this therapy for the purpose of boosting memory. Short of that, there can be no FDA approval or medical regulation for this clinical use.
Lanctôt urges people to seek out clinical NIBS trials in their area if they want to see the science advance. “That is how we’ll find the answers,” she says, predicting it will be 5 to 10 years to develop each additional clinical application of NIBS. Ultimately, she predicts that reigning in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment will require a multi-pronged approach that includes lifestyle and medications, too.
Sandrini believes that scientific efforts should focus on preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s. “We need to start intervention earlier—as soon as people start to complain about forgetting things,” he says. “Changes in the brain start 10 years before [there is a problem]. Once Alzheimer’s develops, it is too late.”
Two years, six million deaths and still counting, scientists are searching for answers to prevent another COVID-19-like tragedy from ever occurring again. And it’s a gargantuan task.
Our disturbed ecosystems are creating more favorable conditions for the spread of infectious disease. Global warming, deforestation, rising sea levels and flooding have contributed to a rise in mosquito-borne infections and longer tick seasons. Disease-carrying animals are in closer range to other species and humans as they migrate to escape the heat. Bats are thought to have carried the SARS-CoV-2 virus to Wuhan, either directly or through another host animal, but thousands of novel viruses are lurking within other wild creatures.
Understanding how climate change contributes to the spread of disease is critical in predicting and thwarting future calamities. But the problem is that predictive models aren’t yet where they need to be for forecasting with certainty beyond the next year, as we could for weather, for instance.
The association between climate and infectious disease is poorly understood, says Irina Tezaur, a computational scientist at Sandia National Laboratories. “Correlations have been observed but it’s not known if these correlations translate to causal relationships.”
To make accurate longer-term predictions, scientists need more empirical data, multiple datasets specific to locations and diseases, and the ability to calculate risks that depend on unpredictable nature and human behavior. Another obstacle is that climate scientists and epidemiologists are not collaborating effectively, so some researchers are calling for a multidisciplinary approach, a new field called Outbreak Science.
Climate scientists are far ahead of epidemiologists in gathering essential data.
Earth System Models—combining the interactions of atmosphere, ocean, land, ice and biosphere—have been in place for two decades to monitor the effects of global climate change. These models must be combined with epidemiological and human model research, areas that are easily skewed by unpredictable elements, from extreme weather events to public environmental policy shifts.
“There is never just one driver in tracking the impact of climate on infectious disease,” says Joacim Rocklöv, a professor at the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health & Heidelberg Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing in Germany. Rocklöv has studied how climate affects vector-borne diseases—those transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, ticks or fleas. “You need to disentangle the variables to find out how much difference climate makes to the outcome and how much is other factors.” Determinants from deforestation to population density to lack of healthcare access influence the spread of disease.
Even though climate change is not the primary driver of infectious disease today, it poses a major threat to public health in the future, says Rocklöv.
The promise of predictive modeling
“Models are simplifications of a system we’re trying to understand,” says Jeremy Hess, who directs the Center for Health and the Global Environment at University of Washington in Seattle. “They’re tools for learning that improve over time with new observations.”
Accurate predictions depend on high-quality, long-term observational data but models must start with assumptions. “It’s not possible to apply an evidence-based approach for the next 40 years,” says Rocklöv. “Using models to experiment and learn is the only way to figure out what climate means for infectious disease. We collect data and analyze what already happened. What we do today will not make a difference for several decades.”
To improve accuracy, scientists develop and draw on thousands of models to cover as many scenarios as possible. One model may capture the dynamics of disease transmission while another focuses on immunity data or ocean influences or seasonal components of a virus. Further, each model needs to be disease-specific and often location-specific to be useful.
“All models have biases so it’s important to use a suite of models,” Tezaur stresses.
The modeling scientist chooses the drivers of change and parameters based on the question explored. The drivers could be increased precipitation, poverty or mosquito prevalence, for instance. Later, the scientist may need to isolate the effect of one driver so that will require another model.
There have been some related successes, such as the latest models for mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue, Zika and malaria as well as those for flu and tick-borne diseases, says Hess.
Rocklöv was part of a research team that used test data from 2018 and 2019 to identify regions at risk for West Nile virus outbreaks. Using AI, scientists were able to forecast outbreaks of the virus for the entire transmission season in Europe. “In the end, we want data-driven models; that’s what AI can accomplish,” says Rocklöv. Other researchers are making an important headway in creating a framework to predict novel host–parasite interactions.
Modeling studies can run months, years or decades. “The scientist is working with layers of data. The challenge is how to transform and couple different models together on a planetary scale,” says Jeanne Fair, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Biosecurity and Public Health, in New Mexico.
Disease forecasting will require a significant investment into the infrastructure needed to collect data about the environment, vectors, and hosts a tall spatial and temporal resolutions.
And it’s a constantly changing picture. A modeling study in an April 2022 issue of Nature predicted that thousands of animals will migrate to cooler locales as temperatures rise. This means that various species will come into closer contact with people and other mammals for the first time. This is likely to increase the risk of emerging infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans, especially in Africa and Asia.
Other things can happen too. Global warming could precipitate viral mutations or new infectious diseases that don’t respond to antimicrobial treatments. Insecticide-resistant mosquitoes could evolve. Weather-related food insecurity could increase malnutrition and weaken people’s immune systems. And the impact of an epidemic will be worse if it co-occurs during a heatwave, flood, or drought, says Hess.
The devil is in the climate variables
Solid predictions about the future of climate and disease are not possible with so many uncertainties. Difficult-to-measure drivers must be added to the empirical model mix, such as land and water use, ecosystem changes or the public’s willingness to accept a vaccine or practice social distancing. Nor is there any precedent for calculating the effect of climate changes that are accelerating at a faster speed than ever before.
The most critical climate variables thought to influence disease spread are temperature, precipitation, humidity, sunshine and wind, according to Tezaur’s research. And then there are variables within variables. Influenza scientists, for example, found that warm winters were predictors of the most severe flu seasons in the following year.
The human factor may be the most challenging determinant. To what degree will people curtail greenhouse gas emissions, if at all? The swift development of effective COVID-19 vaccines was a game-changer, but will scientists be able to repeat it during the next pandemic? Plus, no model could predict the amount of internet-fueled COVID-19 misinformation, Fair noted. To tackle this issue, infectious disease teams are looking to include more sociologists and political scientists in their modeling.
Addressing the gaps
Currently, researchers are focusing on the near future, predicting for next year, says Fair. “When it comes to long-term, that’s where we have the most work to do.” While scientists cannot foresee how political influences and misinformation spread will affect models, they are positioned to make headway in collecting and assessing new data streams that have never been merged.
Disease forecasting will require a significant investment into the infrastructure needed to collect data about the environment, vectors, and hosts at all spatial and temporal resolutions, Fair and her co-authors stated in their recent study. For example real-time data on mosquito prevalence and diversity in various settings and times is limited or non-existent. Fair also would like to see standards set in mosquito data collection in every country. “Standardizing across the US would be a huge accomplishment,” she says.
Understanding how climate change contributes to the spread of disease is critical for thwarting future calamities.
Hess points to a dearth of data in local and regional datasets about how extreme weather events play out in different geographic locations. His research indicates that Africa and the Middle East experienced substantial climate shifts, for example, but are unrepresented in the evidentiary database, which limits conclusions. “A model for dengue may be good in Singapore but not necessarily in Port-au-Prince,” Hess explains. And, he adds, scientists need a way of evaluating models for how effective they are.
The hope, Rocklöv says, is that in the future we will have data-driven models rather than theoretical ones. In turn, sharper statistical analyses can inform resource allocation and intervention strategies to prevent outbreaks.
Most of all, experts emphasize that epidemiologists and climate scientists must stop working in silos. If scientists can successfully merge epidemiological data with climatic, biological, environmental, ecological and demographic data, they will make better predictions about complex disease patterns. Modeling “cross talk” and among disciplines and, in some cases, refusal to release data between countries is hindering discovery and advances.
It’s time for bold transdisciplinary action, says Hess. He points to initiatives that need funding in disease surveillance and control; developing and testing interventions; community education and social mobilization; decision-support analytics to predict when and where infections will emerge; advanced methodologies to improve modeling; training scientists in data management and integrated surveillance.
Establishing a new field of Outbreak Science to coordinate collaboration would accelerate progress. Investment in decision-support modeling tools for public health teams, policy makers, and other long-term planning stakeholders is imperative, too. We need to invest in programs that encourage people from climate modeling and epidemiology to work together in a cohesive fashion, says Tezaur. Joining forces is the only way to solve the formidable challenges ahead.
This article originally appeared in One Health/One Planet, a single-issue magazine that explores how climate change and other environmental shifts are increasing vulnerabilities to infectious diseases by land and by sea. The magazine probes how scientists are making progress with leaders in other fields toward solutions that embrace diverse perspectives and the interconnectedness of all lifeforms and the planet.
Erica Walker had a studio in her Brookline, Mass. apartment where she worked as a bookbinder and furniture maker. That was until a family with two rowdy children moved in above her.
The kids ran amuck, disrupting her sleep and work. Ear plugs weren’t enough to blot out the commotion. Aside from anger and a sense of lost control, the noise increased her heart rate and made her stomach feel like it was dropping, she says.
That’s when Walker realized that noise is a public health problem, not merely an annoyance. She set up her own “mini study” on how the clamor was affecting her. She monitored sound levels in her apartment and sent saliva samples to a lab to measure her stress levels.
Walker ultimately sold her craft equipment and returned to school to study public health. Today she is assistant professor of epidemiology and director of the Community Noise Lab at the Brown University School of Public Health. “We treat noise like a first world problem—like a sacrifice we should have to make for modern conveniences. But it’s a serious environmental stressor,” she asserts.
Our daily soundscape is a cacophony of earsplitting jets, motorcycles, crying babies, construction sites or gunshots if you’re in the military. Noise exposure is the primary cause of preventable hearing loss. Researchers have identified links between excessive noise and a heightened risk of heart disease, metabolic disorders, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and impaired cognition. Even wildlife suffers. Blasting oil drills and loud shipping vessels impede the breeding, feeding and migration of whales and dolphins.
At one time, the federal government had our back… and our ears. Congress passed the Noise Control Act in 1972. The Environmental Protection Agency set up the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) to launch research, explore solutions and establish noise emission standards. But ONAC was defunded in 1981 amidst a swirl of antiregulatory sentiment.
Impossibly Loud and Unhealthy
Daniel Fink. a physician, WHO consultant, and board chair of The Quiet Coalition, a program of the nonprofit Quiet Communities, likens the effect of noise to the invisible but cumulative harm of second-hand smoke. About 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. who report excellent to good hearing already have some hearing loss. The injury can happen after one loud concert or from years with a blaring TV. Some people are more genetically susceptible to noise-related hearing loss than others.
“People say noise isn’t a big deal but it bothers your body whether you realize it or not,” says Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet. Noise can chip away at your ears or cardiovascular system even while you’re sleeping. Rueter became a “quiet advocate” while a professor at UCLA two decades ago. He was plagued by headaches, fatigue and sleep deprivation caused by the hubbub of Los Angeles, he says.
The louder a sound is, and the longer you are exposed to it, the more likely it will cause nerve damage and harmful fluid buildup in your inner ear. Normal speech is 50-60 decibels (dBs). The EPA recommends that 24-hour exposure to noise should be no higher than 70 weighted decibels over 24 hours (weighted to approximate how the human ear perceives the sound) to prevent hearing loss but a 55 dB limit is recommended to protect against other harms from noise, too.
The decibel scale is logarithmic. That means 80 dB is 10 times louder than 70 dB. Trucks and motorcycles run 90 dBs. A gas-powered leaf blower, jackhammer or snow blower will cost you 100 dBs. A rock concert is in the 110 dB range. Aircraft takeoffs or sirens? 120 dBs.
Walker, the Brown professor, says that sound measurements often use misleading metrics, though, because they don’t include low frequency sound that disturb the body. The high frequency of a screeching bus will register in decibels but the sound that makes your chest reverberate is not accounted for, she explains. ‘How loud?’ is a superficial take when it comes to noise, Walker says.
After realizing the impact of noise on her own health, Erica Walker was inspired to change careers and become director of the Community Noise Lab at the Brown University School of Public Health.
Fink adds that the extent to which noise impairs hearing is underestimated. People assume hearing loss is due to age but it’s not inevitable, he says. He cites studies of older people living in quiet, isolated areas who maintain excellent hearing. Just like you can prevent wrinkles by using sunscreen, you can preserve hearing by using ear plugs when attending fireworks or hockey games.
You can enable push notifications on a Smart Watch to alert you at a bar exceeding healthy sound levels. Free apps like SoundPrint, iHEARu, or NoiseTube can do decibel checks, too, but you don’t need one, says Fink. “If you can’t carry a conversation at normal volume, it’s too loud and your auditory health is at risk,” he says.
About 40 million U.S. adults, ages 20-69, have noise-induced hearing loss. Fink is among them after experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) on leaving a raucous New Year’s Eve party in 2007. The condition is permanent and he wears earplugs now for protection.
Fewer are aware of the link between noise pollution and heart disease. Piercing noise is stressful, raising blood pressure and heart rate. If you live near a freeway or constantly barking dog, the chronic sound stress can trigger systemic inflammation and the vascular changes associated with heart attacks and stroke.
Researchers at Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, working with data from the state’s Bureau of Transportation, determined that 1 in 20 heart attacks in New Jersey during 2018 were due to noise from highways, trains and air traffic. That’s 800 heart attack hospitalizations in the state that year.
Another study showed that incidence of hypertension and hardening arteries decreased during the Covid-19 air lockdown among Poles in Krakow routinely exposed to aircraft noise. The authors, comparing their pre-pandemic 2015 results to 2020 data, concluded it was no coincidence.
Mental health takes a hit, too. Chronic noise can provoke anxiety, depression and violence. Cognitively, there is ample evidence that noise disturbance lowers student achievement and worker productivity, and hearing loss among older people can speed up cognitive decline.
Noise also contributes to health disparities. People in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status and a higher percentage of minority residents bear the brunt of noise. Affluent people have the means to live far from airports, factories, and honking traffic.
Out, Out, Damn Noise
Europe is ahead of the U.S. in tackling noise pollution. The World Health Organization developed policy guidelines used by the European Environment Agency to establish noise regulations and standards, and progress reports are issued.
Americans are relying too much on personal protective equipment (PPE) instead of eliminating or controlling noise. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention rank PPE as the least useful response. Earplugs and muffs are effective, says Walker, but these devices are “a band-aid on a waterfall.”
Editing out noise during product design is the goal. Engineers have an arsenal of techniques and know-how for that. The problem is that these solutions aren’t being applied.
A better way to lower the volume is by maintaining or substituting equipment intended for common use. Piercing building alarms can be replaced with visual signals that flash alerts. Clanking chain and gear drives can be swapped out with belt drives. Acoustical barriers can wall off highway noise. Hospitals can soften beeping monitors and limit loudspeaker blasts. Double paned windows preserve quiet.
Editing out noise during product design is the goal. Engineers have an arsenal of techniques and know-how for that. The problem is that these solutions aren’t being applied, says Jim Thompson, an engineer and editor of the Noise Control Engineering Journal, published by the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA
Engineers have materials to insulate, absorb, reflect, block, seal or diffuse noise. Building walls can be padded. Metal gears and parts can be replaced with plastic. Clattering equipment wheels can be rubberized. In recent years, building certifications such as LEED have put more emphasis on designs that minimize harmful noise.
Walker faults urban planners, too. A city’s narrow streets and taller buildings create a canyon effect which intensifies noise. City planners could use bypasses, rerouting, and other infrastructure strategies to pump down traffic volume. Sound-absorbing asphalt pavement exists, too.
Some municipalities are taking innovative measures on their own. Noise cameras have been installed in Knoxville, Miami and New York City this year and six California cities will join suit next year. If your muffler or audio system registers 86 dB or higher, you may receive a warning, fine or citation, similar to how a red-light camera works. Rueter predicts these cameras will become commonplace.
Based on understanding how metabolic processes affect noise-induced hearing loss in animal models, scientists are exploring whether pharmacological interventions might work to inhibit cellular damage or improve cellular defenses against noise.
Washington, DC, and the University of Southern California have banned gas-powered leaf blowers in lieu of quieter battery-powered models to reduce both noise and air pollution. California will be the first state to ban the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment starting 2024.
New York state legislators enacted the SLEEP (Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution) Act in 2021. This measure increases enforcement and fines against motorists and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems for effect.
“A lot more basic science and application research is needed [to control noise],” says Thompson, noting that funding for this largely dried up after the 1970s. Based on understanding how metabolic processes affect noise-induced hearing loss in animal models, scientists are exploring whether pharmacological interventions might work to inhibit cellular damage or improve cellular defenses against noise.
Studying biochemical or known genetic markers for noise risk could lead to other methods for preventing hearing loss. This would offer an opportunity to identify people with significant risk so those more susceptible to hearing loss could start taking precautions to avoid noise or protect their ears in childhood.
These efforts could become more pressing in the near future, with the anticipated onslaught of drones, rising needs for air conditioners, and urban sprawl boding poorly for the soundscape. This, as deforestation destroys natural carbon absorption reservoirs and removes sound-buffering trees.
“Local and state governments don’t have a plan to deal with [noise] now or in the future,” says Walker. “We need to think about this with intentionality.”