The Effect of Acute Background Noise on Recognition Tasks

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Psykologiska institutionen

Author: Daniel Deigård; [2012]

Keywords: noise; memory; learning; recognition; sound; encoding;


Many studies have investigated the effects of background noise on cognitive functions, in particular memory and learning. But few studies have examined the effect of acute noise on the specific parts of the memory process. The purpose of the current study was to fill this gap in the research. Twenty-three students from Stockholm University were tested with two different semantic programming tasks during different white noise conditions. Working memory capacity and subjective sensitivity to noise was also tested. No significant effects were found on the participants’ recognition scores, but a significant main effect for noise during recognition, as well as a significant main effect of experimental group, was found on response times. The noise effect was positive, which puts the study in conflict with most previous ones. The results could perhaps be explained by the theory of Stochastic Resonance or the Yerkes-Dodson Effect. Other reaction-time related tasks are suggested as future topics of study.

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