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A new study shows that white noise improves learning performance

Posted December 26, 2017

Everyone needs to study something. Even if you are out of university and school, you have to learn something every day to grow as a personality and be overall a more interesting person. But what environment is easier for you to study in? Scientists from The University of Queensland say that a complete silence may not be the correct choice if you want to boost your learning ability.

Some people prefer learning in complete silence, but some white noise may be helpful. Image credit: Spaynton via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

White noise is pretty much random signals at the same volume, but different frequencies. It is quite a calm sound, typically reminding people of the sound of the ocean or flying in a jetliner. This new study showed that white noise can actually increase learning performance, compared to learning in complete science, which is typically preferred by most. Scientists focused on one branch of learning – learning new words. It is something people have to do in all different subjects, not just while learning a new language. However, scientists are not saying that white noise cannot enhance other learning types as well.

Scientists performed experiments that revealed that people who were listening to white noise while learning new words could recall them more accurately than those, who were studying in silence. The study involved eight healthy adults. They were asked to remember names for different alien pictures. Names and pictures of aliens were presented on the computer screen a number of times for a fixed duration. Half of the participants were learning in silence while another half was listening to white noise. Participants had to go through five learning phases. After each phase they were presented with alien pictures they had to type names to. It seemed like white noise had the capacity to improve learning ability rather than make it easier to recall these foreign words – no noise was used during the test phase.

It seems like white noise helps people focusing on the task at hand. However, scientists say that they will continue the research to see how white noise can improve cognitive performance and how tailored programs could help individual people. Anthony Angwin, one of the authors of the study, said: “Once we develop a better understanding of the effects of white noise on healthy adults, we would like to apply this knowledge to do further studies with people with learning or language difficulties to see if white noise improves their learning performance”. Interestingly, a lot of people are already using white noise to their advantage.

Some people will be reading this article saying “I already knew that”. White noise machines as well as white noise soundtracks on YouTube are incredibly popular, because they, as people say, help falling asleep and focusing.


Source: The University of Queensland

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