Cognitive performance and sounds: the effects of lyrical music and pink noise on performance

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Northern Kentucky University
Given that a large percentage of students listen to music while studying, we investigated whether external noise could impair learning. In the current experiment, participants were tested on their performance in reading comprehension while listening to different types of sound. Undergraduate students (N = 70) were asked to read a passage while listening to either pink noise (equivalent to the spectrum of natural sound), pop music (genre of popular music), or read in silence. After reading an informative passage and completing a brief distractor task, participants completed a final test to assess their performance. Afterwards, participants answered questions on their personal study habits. We hypothesized that listening to pink noise while studying would improve cognitive performance compared to listening to pop music or studying in silence. In addition, we predicted that listening to pop music while studying would impair performance relative to pink noise and studying in silence. Results indicated no difference for the different types of sound on performance, suggesting that studying with sound has a minimal impact on learning.
Learning ability, Reading Physiological aspects, Reading comprehension