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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 61  |  Page : 292--296

A 3 year update on the influence of noise on performance and behavior


1 Centre for Psychiatry, Barts and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, London, EC1M 6BQ, United Kingdom
2 Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, University of Gävle, Gävle SE-801 76; Linnaeus Centre HEAD,Swedish Institute for Disability Research, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

Correspondence Address:
Charlotte Clark
Senior Lecturer Environmental and Mental Health Epidemiology, Centre for Psychiatry, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.104896

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The effect of noise exposure on human performance and behavior continues to be a focus for research activities. This paper reviews developments in the field over the past 3 years, highlighting current areas of research, recent findings, and ongoing research in two main research areas: Field studies of noise effects on children's cognition and experimental studies of auditory distraction. Overall, the evidence for the effects of external environmental noise on children's cognition has strengthened in recent years, with the use of larger community samples and better noise characterization. Studies have begun to establish exposure-effect thresholds for noise effects on cognition. However, the evidence remains predominantly cross-sectional and future research needs to examine whether sound insulation might lessen the effects of external noise on children's learning. Research has also begun to explore the link between internal classroom acoustics and children's learning, aiming to further inform the design of the internal acoustic environment. Experimental studies of the effects of noise on cognitive performance are also reviewed, including functional differences in varieties of auditory distraction, semantic auditory distraction, individual differences in susceptibility to auditory distraction, and the role of cognitive control on the effects of noise on understanding and memory of target speech materials. In general, the results indicate that there are at least two functionally different types of auditory distraction: One due to the interruption of processes (as a result of attention being captured by the sound), another due to interference between processes. The magnitude of the former type is related to individual differences in cognitive control capacities (e.g., working memory capacity); the magnitude of the latter is not. Few studies address noise effects on behavioral outcomes, emphasizing the need for researchers to explore noise effects on behavior in more detail.






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