Listening to white noise can increase the ability to learn new words. A study by the University of Queensland is the first to show the effect listening to white noise could have on word learning performance. White noise sound contains every frequency within the range of human hearing in equal amounts.

“While it is often thought you should minimise noise when learning or processing information, emerging research suggests some types of auditory noise, such as white noise, have the potential to improve performance on some cognitive tasks,” senior lecturer in speech pathology at the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Dr Anthony Angwin said. “We found participants who listened to white noise could recall the words they had learned more accurately than people who did the language learning in silence.”

The findings suggest that white noise has the capacity to enhance word learning and may support other forms of learning for some people.

“Once we develop a better understanding of the effects of white noise on healthy adults, we would like to apply this knowledge to do further studies with people with learning or language difficulties to see if white noise improves their learning performance,” Angwin said.