Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jenni Redifer (Director), Lisa Duffin, Sarah Ochs

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


White noise has historically been utilized as a tool for offsetting or masking sounds that may be perceived as disruptive, most commonly during the sleeping process. More recently, literature has begun to explore the possibility of using white noise as a tool to suppress these potentially distracting sounds within the area of cognitive processing. Present literature suggests that white noise may be a useful tool for masking noises like these in order to improve cognitive performance, especially for those individuals who may possess inattentive symptoms. However, this research has largely been conducted using tasks that involve working memory or visual processing and often only featuring participants with inattentive symptoms. More research is needed to determine the effects of white noise on intentional cognitive processing in more realistic, academic scenarios that measure recall of information.

This study tested the effects of white noise presentation on recall and cognitive load. Specifically, this study determined whether studying with white noise resulted in increased performance on a reading recall test compared to studying with ambient sound (whatever sounds were naturally occurring in the environment of the participant), whether performance level differences in the white noise and ambient sound conditions were related to inattentive symptoms, and whether perceived differences in cognitive load levels were related to white noise exposure.


Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | School Psychology