Sonic Conditioning

I cannot recall whether this has been a topic of consideration previously, but this idea is something that is an inescapable element of everyday life. Being exposed to an innumerable amount of sounds on a daily basis, it makes sense that the repetition of certain noises are going to imprint themselves within in our minds in unique ways. Establishing connections between events and sounds is in no way even remotely original, but that does not take away from how prevalent and fascinating it is. One of the most prominent examples that comes to mind is the experiment done with Pavlov’s Dog. Through classical conditioning, he was able to have the dog salivate at the sound of a bell ringing when it expected the stimulus of food. This is a family common example of this type of response, but it reminds me too much of a sonic connection I share with the ringing not of a bell, but of an alarm. Like most, I set an alarm on my phone to wake me up in the morning and on many occasions to remind me to tend to something I might have forgotten. Every time, I use the same loud, clamoring patterned ring that startles me even when I am expecting it. It has gotten to the point where no matter what occasion¬†the alarm is redirecting my conscious to, a wave of overwhelming panic washed over me for one moment and I am terrified. I have been conditioned to recognize and process this tone only in negative circumstances. It means I have to wake up and go to class or wake up from a nap and continue the endless amounts of homework or remember that I have some burden hanging over my head that immediately needs to be dealt with. Even though I loathe this ring more than anything in my daily life, I cannot simply change my ringtone. It causes an acute, minor heart attack, but it has conditioned me to recognize a sense of urgency and quickly adopt the new primary task. I have overtime learned to react and shift my focus with much more haste and certainty because I constantly experience the same sheer momentary terror each time it goes off. I have been conditioned to act accordingly and even when I hear it out of context on someone else’s phone, it causes my body to shiver and I search deeper within my mind to pull out any information I may be forgetting to utilize. Sound without us even considering it, can latch itself onto a memory or imprint itself onto an event as a conditioning mechanism. Although the emotions it evokes can be both horrifying and soothing, the purpose it serves has ¬†considerable value.