The Effect of White Noise on Short- and Long-Term Recall in Hyperactive Boys

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The purpose of this research investigation was to determine whether an auditory arouser in the form of 2-minute bursts of 75 decibels of white noise (WN) might be used to facilitate short- and long-term recall for hyperactive boys. An attempt was made to determine whether the stimulus was most effective if it was presented (a) before acquisition, (b) before the recall tests, or (c) both before acquisition and before the recall tests. Hyperactivity was operationally defined as a score of eight or more on the Conners' Teacher's Questionnaire. The subjects for the study were 36 boys who had received the criterion score or more on the Questionnaire which had been completed by the regular classroom teacher of each child. The boys were between the ages of 8.50 and 12.75 years. Ten hypotheses were tested using two types of tasks. A silently read paragraphs task consistently preceded a tape-recorded paragraphs task. Each task was followed by the administration of two halves of a test. The first half of the test for each task was given at a 2- minute interval and the second half of the test for each task was given at a 24-hour interval. The scores for each half test were subjected to a separate analysis. Thus, four half tests were administered and four separate analyses were conducted. The half test analyses were named for their order of presentation. Each boy was randomly assigned to one of four noise-condition groups. Each child was retained in the same noise condition for each of the tasks. Nine boys heard no noise (NN) before acquisition and NN before recall tests, nine boys heard Wl~ before acquisition but NN before recall tests, nine boys heard NN before acquisition but ~m before recall tests, and nine boys heard WN before acquisition and WN before the recall tests. The scores obtained on Occasion 1 were analyzed by a 2 x 2 (noise condition prior to acquisition x noise condition prior to recall) analysis of covariance. Age served as the covariate. The scores obtained on each of Occasions 2, 3, and 4 were analyzed by a 2 x 2 (noise condition prior to acquisition x noise condition prior to recall) analysis of variance. Neither the analysis of covariance for Occasion 1, nor the analyses of variance for Occasions 2, 3~ or 4 yielded significant ! values for any of the criterion measures. The mean criterion scores for the four noise-condition groups did not differ significantly on any of the four occasions. However, in the case of the tape-recorded paragraphs task, eight of the ten hypotheses did predict the directionality of the mean scores. Nevertheless, since the findings were not significant, it was concluded that the data did not support the notion ·that white noise could be utilized to facilitate either short- or long-term recall of either a silently read paragraphs task or a tape-recorded paragraphs task. The temporal location of WN did not appear to be an important variable. Several possible explanations for the findings were offered. The difficulties in obtaining hyperactive subjects from a single environment and of ascertaining information about their attributes were discussed. The possibility that the dependent variables used in the study were not reliable or not sensitive to quantitative research was considered. Finally, it was suggested that a more homogeneous group of boys be used in future research studies, that an attempt be made to obtain larger numbers of subjects than were used in this study, that different dependent variables be utilized, and that white noise be administered over many trials for longer periods of time.