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Moderators of noise-induced cognitive change in healthy adults

Wright, Bernice A.L.; Peters, Emmanuelle R.; Ettinger, Ulrich; Kuipers, Elizabeth; Kumari, Veena


Emmanuelle R. Peters

Ulrich Ettinger

Elizabeth Kuipers

Veena Kumari


Environmental noise causes cognitive impairment, particularly in executive function and episodic memory domains, in healthy populations. However, the possible moderating influences on this relationship are less clear. This study assessed 54 healthy participants (24 men) on a cognitive battery (measuring psychomotor speed, attention, executive function, working memory, and verbal learning and memory) under three (quiet, urban, and social) noise conditions. IQ, subjective noise sensitivity, sleep, personality, paranoia, depression, anxiety, stress, and schizotypy were assessed on a single occasion. We found significantly slower psychomotor speed (urban), reduced working memory and episodic memory (urban and social), and more cautious decision-making (executive function, urban) under noise conditions. There was no effect of sex. Variance in urban noise-induced changes in psychomotor speed, attention, Trail Making B-A (executive function), and immediate recall and social noise-induced changes in verbal fluency (executive function) and immediate recall were explained by a combination of baseline cognition and paranoia, noise sensitivity, sleep, or cognitive disorganization. Higher baseline cognition (but not IQ) predicted greater impairment under urban and social noise for most cognitive variables. Paranoia predicted psychomotor speed, attention, and executive function impairment. Subjective noise sensitivity predicted executive function and memory impairment. Poor sleep quality predicted less memory impairment. Finally, lower levels of cognitive disorganization predicted slower psychomotor speed and greater memory impairment. The identified moderators should be considered in studies aiming to reduce the detrimental effects of occupational and residential noise. These results highlight the importance of studying noise effects in clinical populations characterized by high levels of the paranoia, sleep disturbances, noise sensitivity, and cognitive disorganization.


Wright, B. A., Peters, E. R., Ettinger, U., Kuipers, E., & Kumari, V. (2016). Moderators of noise-induced cognitive change in healthy adults. Noise & health, 18(82), 117-132.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 9, 2016
Online Publication Date May 9, 2016
Publication Date May 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2018
Journal Noise and Health
Print ISSN 1463-1741
Electronic ISSN 1998-4030
Publisher Medknow Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 82
Pages 117-132
Keywords Cognitive performance; Individual differences; Social noise; Urban noise
Public URL
Publisher URL;year=2016;volume=18;issue=82;spage=117;epage=132;aulast=Wright