White noise facilitates new-word learning from context

Anthony J. Angwin, Wayne J. Wilson, Pablo Ripollés, Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells, Wendy L. Arnott, Robert J. Barry, Bonnie B.Y. Cheng, Kimberley Garden, David A. Copland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Listening to white noise may facilitate cognitive performance, including new word learning, for some individuals. This study investigated whether auditory white noise facilitates the learning of novel written words from context in healthy young adults. Sixty-nine participants were required to determine the meaning of novel words placed within sentence contexts during a silent reading task. Learning was performed either with or without white noise, and recognition of novel word meanings was tested immediately after learning and after a short delay. Immediate recognition accuracy for learned novel word meanings was higher in the noise group relative to the no noise group, however this effect was no longer evident at the delayed recognition test. These findings suggest that white noise has the capacity to facilitate meaning acquisition from context, however further research is needed to clarify its capacity to improve longer-term retention of meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104699
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Attention
  • Language learning
  • Lexical acquisition
  • Stochastic resonance
  • White noise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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