Does an anechoic chamber cause hallucinations?

The Sound Blog

Hallucinations in silence

Anechoic Chamber, University of Salford Anechoic Chamber, University of Salford

I have been asked about recent claims that very quiet anechoic chambers can cause hallucinations. We have an ultra-silent anechoic chamber around the corner from my office as part of the Acoustic Labs at University of Salford.

In a very quiet anechoic chamber no sound from the outside world enters you ear canals. That does not mean, however, that you hear silence. You might hear the blood gently pumping through your head, or a high-pitched hiss caused by spontaneous firings of the auditory nerve. Normally, these internal sounds are masked by external noises and so are inaudible. If you have tinnitus (ringing in the ears), then it becomes very obvious in an anechoic chamber. But none of these effects are hallucinations. In the 20+ years I’ve been at Salford I’ve never heard of anyone claiming to have suffered hallucinations.

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