The effects of noise on key workplace skills

This study explored the effect on memory and psychomotor performance of wideband noise (simulated in-cabin aircraft noise) at 75 dBA, which is similar to that experienced during the cruise phase of a commercial flight. The results from the tests were compared to the effects of a widely known and common metric on the same skills, namely, blood alcohol concentration (BAC). All 32 participants, half non-native English speakers, completed three different tests (recognition memory, working memory, and reaction time) presented in counterbalanced order, either in the presence of noise, with or without noise attenuation headphones, and without noise but with a BAC of 0.05 or 0.10. Simulated aircraft noise was found to affect recognition memory but not working memory or reaction time. These effects were more pronounced for non-native speakers and reflected performance similar to that for BAC of 0.05 or 0.10.

Source: Molesworth BR, Burgess M, Zhou A. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 2015; 138 (4).

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