The perception of noise is somewhat subjective, but to a lot of people noise refers to any unwanted or undesirable sound. To me, noise is a distraction. I lose my focus when there is too much noise around. I could not memorize and understand something if I can hear noise, I could not focus my attention in class if there are people talking or there are loud noises outside the classroom, and I get irritated to people who are really noisy. My brain requires a quiet and noiseless environment in order to function properly.
As I was looking for a journal article for this blog entry, a study by Soderlund et al. (2010) really got me curious. When I read the title of their study, The effects of background white noise on memory performance in inattentive school children, I was really skeptical and thought that this is bullsh*t (Pardon my language). The researchers predicted that the performance of inattentive children would improve while the attentive children’s performance will worsen. The researchers subjected fifty-one secondary school students into an episodic free recall test having two noise conditions, high and low noise conditions. In the first condition, sentences and a white noise of 78 dB were presented simultaneously to the students. In the low noise condition, the sentences were presented alone and without the white noise. Results showed that exposure to the background white noise improved performance for inattentive students and worsened performance for attentive students.
The results are very surprising because who would have ever thought that noise, specifically white noise, can improve cognitive performance in school. These findings can be very useful to students who are having a hard time in school. Adding a little white noise would not hurt children and it can greatly improve their cognitive abilities. Next time that I find myself having a hard time focusing in class, I will just bring out my ipod and play me some white noise.
We should give white noise more credit because it is not just used as a medium for spirits to communicate with people but also a tool for improving performance. White noise is so underrated.
Soderlund, G., Sikstrom, S., Loftesnes, J., & Sonuga-Barke, E. (2010). The effects of background white noise on memory performance in inattentive school children. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 6(55), 51-66.