Cognitive performance, creativity and stress levels of neurotypical young adults under different white noise levels

Sci Rep. 2022 Aug 26;12(1):14566. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-18862-w.


Noise is often considered a distractor; however recent studies suggest that sub-attentive individuals or individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can benefit from white noise to enhance their cognitive performance. Research regarding the effect of white noise on neurotypical adults presents mixed results, thus the implications of white noise on the neurotypical population remain unclear. Thus, this study investigates the effect of 2 white noise conditions, white noise level at 45 dB and white noise level at 65 dB, on the cognitive performance, creativity, and stress levels of neurotypical young adults in a private office space. These conditions are compared to a baseline condition where participants are exposed to the office ambient noise. Our findings showed that the white noise level at 45 dB resulted in better cognitive performance in terms of sustained attention, accuracy, and speed of performance as well as enhanced creativity and lower stress levels. On the other hand, the 65 dB white noise condition led to improved working memory but higher stress levels, which leads to the conclusion that different tasks might require different noise levels for optimal performance. These results lay the foundation for the integration of white noise into office workspaces as a tool to enhance office workers' performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity*
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Noise
  • Young Adult