Mental arithmetic and non-speech office noise: an exploration of interference-by-content

Noise Health. 2013 Jan-Feb;15(62):73-8. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.107160.


An interference-by-content account of auditory distraction - in which the impairment to task performance derives from the similarity of what is being recalled and what is being ignored - was explored concerning mental arithmetic performance. Participants completed both a serial recall and a mental arithmetic task in the presence of quiet, office noise with speech (OS) and office noise without speech (ONS). Both tasks revealed that the two office noise condition's significantly impaired performance. That the ONS produced this deficit suggests that an interference-by-content account cannot explain impairment to mental arithmetic performance by background sound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Mental Recall*
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Speech
  • Wales