Multisensory Assessment of Acoustic Comfort Aboard Metros: a Virtual Reality Study


Tina Iachini, PhD, Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples, Via Vivaldi, 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy.



In this study, a multisensory methodology is used to assess acoustic comfort aboard different real-world metros by means of subjective annoyance and cognitive performance measures. Two experimental conditions were compared: unimodal versus bimodal. Immersive virtual reality was used to simulate journeys aboard metro coaches. Participants performed four tasks (Rey Test, Verbal Fluency, Backward Counting and Auditory Words Discrimination) while listening to metro sounds (unimodal condition) or while listening to metro sounds within a virtual metro coach (bimodal condition). At the end of each journey, participants reported their degree of noise annoyance. The results showed that cognitive performances were worse in the bimodal than in the unimodal condition. Moreover, the bimodal condition affected negatively the capacity to discriminate words and to count backward. However, reported noise annoyance was higher in the unimodal than bimodal condition. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.