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Effects of meaningful irrelevant speech and road traffic noise on teachers' attention, episodic and semantic memory.
University of Gävle, Department of Technology and Built Environment, Ämnesavdelningen för inomhusmiljö.
2004 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 45, no 5, p. 393-405Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present experiment was to examine the effects of meaningful irrelevant speech and road traffic noise on attention, episodic and semantic memory, and also to examine whether the noise effects were age-dependent. A total of 96 male and female teachers in the age range of 35-45 and 55-65 years were randomly assigned to a silent or the two noise conditions. Noise effects found in episodic memory were limited to a meaningful text, where cued recall contrary to expectations was equally impaired by the two types of noise. However, meaningful irrelevant speech also deteriorated recognition of the text, whereas road traffic noise caused no decrement. Retrieval from two word fluency tests in semantic memory showed strong effects of noise exposure, one affected by meaningful irrelevant speech and the other by road traffic noise. The results implied that both acoustic variation and the semantic interference could be of importance for noise impairments. The expected age-dependent noise effects did not show up.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 45, no 5, p. 393-405
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-2905DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2004.00421.xISI: 000224906700005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-2905DiVA, id: diva2:119567
Available from: 2008-05-30 Created: 2008-05-30 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Noise in the school environment: Memory and Annoyance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Noise in the school environment: Memory and Annoyance
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Objectives.The general objectives of this dissertationwere to examine the effects of acute exposure to meaningfulirrelevant speech and road traffic noise on memory performance,and to explore annoyance responses to noise exposure in theschool environment for pupils and teachers in different agegroups.

Methods. The thesis comprises seven papers, representingdifferent methodological approaches: experiments, surveystudies and interviews. In the experiments, reported in PapersI-V, 288 pupils and teachers participated in the age groups,13-14 years (n=96), 18-20 years (n=96), 35-45 years (n=48) and55-65 years (n=48). The subjects were randomly assigned to oneof three conditions: (a) meaningful irrelevant speech, (b) roadtraffic noise, and (c) silence. The equivalent sound level inthe noise conditions was set to 66 dB(A). A test batteryreflecting episodic and semantic memory were used. The surveystudies, reported in Paper VI and VII, included 207 pupils(M=13.5) and 166 teachers (M=45.9). Two separate questionnairesmainly comprising items about annoyance, noise sensitivity andstress symptoms were administered. Paper VI presents results offocus group interviews (n=16) treating the main topics:disturbing sounds, emotions, ongoing activity, and suggestionsconcerning future changes. Results. The overall findings showedthat both noise sources affected episodic and semantic memoryto the same degree for all age groups. The results indicatedthat the similarity of semantic content between noise and thetask at hand was not the only suitable explanation model, sincea non-speech noise impaired memory as much as speech.

Resultsalso indicated that attention effects did notmediate the obtained noise effects and that the noise effectsdid not differ between age groups. Therefore, it seemedunlikely that different memory and attentional capacities stoodout as explanatory factors of the memory effects. Sinceperformances of both episodic and semantic memory tasks wereimpaired, the explanation based on level of access to long-termmemory was also ruled out. However, the episodic memory task,reading comprehension, stood out to be most impaired by noise,suggesting that complexity of the task to perform was ofimportance. For reading comprehension there was also adifferent noise pattern obtained. Participants performance wasin this task, more impaired by meaningful irrelevant speechthan by road traffic noise. This effect indicated thatmeaningful irrelevant speech might reduce the availablecognitive resources necessary for learning the text. Theannoyance models derived from the survey studies indicated thatsensitivity acted as a mediator between hearing status andannoyance, with stress symptoms as an outcome. Whetherannoyance arises or not was also determined by control andpredictability of the noise. In the interviews a differentannoyance pattern was found, in that stress symptoms appearedto be a determinant of annoyance. To be involved, respected,take own responsibility and respect others were suggestions onhow to change the environment to become more silent.

Conclusions.For both pupils and teachers acute exposureto meaningful irrelevant speech and road traffic noiseinfluenced both the achieving and providing of knowledge. Acommon annoyance pattern was also found for pupils andteachers, where individual and situational factors were ofimportance. To achieve a more silent school environment in thefuture, the pupils pointed out that the interaction betweenthemselves and their teachers was of importance.

Key words:Noise, meaningful irrelevant speech, roadtraffic noise, memory, age groups, school environment, pupils,teachers

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Byggvetenskap, 2004. p. 59
Keywords
Noise, meaningful irrelevant speech, road traffic noise, memory, age group, school environment, pupils, teachers
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-12862 (URN)91-7283-718-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-04-23, 00:00
Available from: 2012-09-13 Created: 2012-09-12 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved

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