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Different effects of adding white noise on cognitive performance of sub-, normal and super-attentive school children.

Helps SK, Bamford S, Sonuga-Barke EJ, Söderlund GB - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Noise often has detrimental effects on performance.There were different effects of WN on performance in the three groups-adding moderate WN worsened the performance of super-attentive children for both task types and improved EF performance in sub-attentive children.The predicted differential effect of WN on performance was confirmed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Disorders of Impulse and Attention, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Noise often has detrimental effects on performance. However, because of the phenomenon of stochastic resonance (SR), auditory white noise (WN) can alter the "signal to noise" ratio and improve performance. The Moderate Brain Arousal (MBA) model postulates different levels of internal "neural noise" in individuals with different attentional capacities. This in turn determines the particular WN level most beneficial in each individual case-with one level of WN facilitating poor attenders but hindering super-attentive children. The objective of the present study is to find out if added WN affects cognitive performance differently in children that differ in attention ability.

Methods: Participants were teacher-rated super- (N = 25); normal- (N = 29) and sub-attentive (N = 36) children (aged 8 to 10 years). Two non-executive function (EF) tasks (a verbal episodic recall task and a delayed verbal recognition task) and two EF tasks (a visuo-spatial working memory test and a Go-NoGo task) were performed under three WN levels. The non-WN condition was only used to control for potential differences in background noise in the group testing situations.

Results: There were different effects of WN on performance in the three groups-adding moderate WN worsened the performance of super-attentive children for both task types and improved EF performance in sub-attentive children. The normal-attentive children's performance was unaffected by WN exposure. The shift from moderate to high levels of WN had little further effect on performance in any group.

Significance: The predicted differential effect of WN on performance was confirmed. However, the failure to find evidence for an inverted U function challenges current theories. Alternative explanations are discussed. We propose that WN therapy should be further investigated as a possible non-pharmacological treatment for inattention.

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Performance on non-executive function tasks as a function of attention ability and noise level.Note: White noise levels were 65, 70, 75 dB, speech level ≈ 75 dB; * indicates a significant difference between groups in the 65 dB condition (F(2,86) = 8.18, p = .001).
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pone-0112768-g002: Performance on non-executive function tasks as a function of attention ability and noise level.Note: White noise levels were 65, 70, 75 dB, speech level ≈ 75 dB; * indicates a significant difference between groups in the 65 dB condition (F(2,86) = 8.18, p = .001).

Mentions: For the EF tasks, although the pattern of performance changes was similar, the patterns of statistical significance were different (see Figure 2). There was only a trend for an effect of group (F(2,86) = 2.71, p = .073), and no significant effect of WN (F(2,86) = 1.89, p = 154, ns). There was however a significant interaction between group and WN (F(4,174) = 2.49, p = .045). Again, the shift from low to moderate levels of WN had a different effect on the three groups. The sub-attentive participants displayed a significant improvement in performance (F(2,66) = 7.39, p = .001), the average attention group showed a small, non-significant improvement in performance (F(2,56) = .230, p = .795, ns), and for the super-attentive group there was a small, non-significant decline in performance (F(2,46) = .202, p = .818, ns). Again, the significant group difference seen at low WN levels was no longer present at the moderate or the high WN levels (65dB F(2,86) = 6.36, p = .003∶75dB F(2,86) = .490, p = .615, ns : 85dB F(2,86) = .206, p = .814, ns), (see Figure 2).


Different effects of adding white noise on cognitive performance of sub-, normal and super-attentive school children.

Helps SK, Bamford S, Sonuga-Barke EJ, Söderlund GB - PLoS ONE (2014)

Performance on non-executive function tasks as a function of attention ability and noise level.Note: White noise levels were 65, 70, 75 dB, speech level ≈ 75 dB; * indicates a significant difference between groups in the 65 dB condition (F(2,86) = 8.18, p = .001).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4231104&req=5

pone-0112768-g002: Performance on non-executive function tasks as a function of attention ability and noise level.Note: White noise levels were 65, 70, 75 dB, speech level ≈ 75 dB; * indicates a significant difference between groups in the 65 dB condition (F(2,86) = 8.18, p = .001).
Mentions: For the EF tasks, although the pattern of performance changes was similar, the patterns of statistical significance were different (see Figure 2). There was only a trend for an effect of group (F(2,86) = 2.71, p = .073), and no significant effect of WN (F(2,86) = 1.89, p = 154, ns). There was however a significant interaction between group and WN (F(4,174) = 2.49, p = .045). Again, the shift from low to moderate levels of WN had a different effect on the three groups. The sub-attentive participants displayed a significant improvement in performance (F(2,66) = 7.39, p = .001), the average attention group showed a small, non-significant improvement in performance (F(2,56) = .230, p = .795, ns), and for the super-attentive group there was a small, non-significant decline in performance (F(2,46) = .202, p = .818, ns). Again, the significant group difference seen at low WN levels was no longer present at the moderate or the high WN levels (65dB F(2,86) = 6.36, p = .003∶75dB F(2,86) = .490, p = .615, ns : 85dB F(2,86) = .206, p = .814, ns), (see Figure 2).

Bottom Line: Noise often has detrimental effects on performance.There were different effects of WN on performance in the three groups-adding moderate WN worsened the performance of super-attentive children for both task types and improved EF performance in sub-attentive children.The predicted differential effect of WN on performance was confirmed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Disorders of Impulse and Attention, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Objectives: Noise often has detrimental effects on performance. However, because of the phenomenon of stochastic resonance (SR), auditory white noise (WN) can alter the "signal to noise" ratio and improve performance. The Moderate Brain Arousal (MBA) model postulates different levels of internal "neural noise" in individuals with different attentional capacities. This in turn determines the particular WN level most beneficial in each individual case-with one level of WN facilitating poor attenders but hindering super-attentive children. The objective of the present study is to find out if added WN affects cognitive performance differently in children that differ in attention ability.

Methods: Participants were teacher-rated super- (N = 25); normal- (N = 29) and sub-attentive (N = 36) children (aged 8 to 10 years). Two non-executive function (EF) tasks (a verbal episodic recall task and a delayed verbal recognition task) and two EF tasks (a visuo-spatial working memory test and a Go-NoGo task) were performed under three WN levels. The non-WN condition was only used to control for potential differences in background noise in the group testing situations.

Results: There were different effects of WN on performance in the three groups-adding moderate WN worsened the performance of super-attentive children for both task types and improved EF performance in sub-attentive children. The normal-attentive children's performance was unaffected by WN exposure. The shift from moderate to high levels of WN had little further effect on performance in any group.

Significance: The predicted differential effect of WN on performance was confirmed. However, the failure to find evidence for an inverted U function challenges current theories. Alternative explanations are discussed. We propose that WN therapy should be further investigated as a possible non-pharmacological treatment for inattention.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus