The impact of auditory white noise on semantic priming



Publication Details

Angwin, A., Wilson, W., Copland, D., Barry, R., Myatt, G. & Arnott, W. (2018). The impact of auditory white noise on semantic priming. Brain and Language, 180-182 1-7.


2018 Elsevier Inc. It has been proposed that white noise can improve cognitive performance for some individuals, particularly those with lower attention, and that this effect may be mediated by dopaminergic circuitry. Given existing evidence that semantic priming is modulated by dopamine, this study investigated whether white noise can facilitate semantic priming. Seventy-eight adults completed an auditory semantic priming task with and without white noise, at either a short or long inter-stimulus interval (ISI). Measures of both direct and indirect semantic priming were examined. Analysis of the results revealed significant direct and indirect priming effects at each ISI in noise and silence, however noise significantly reduced the magnitude of indirect priming. Analyses of subgroups with higher versus lower attention revealed a reduction to indirect priming in noise relative to silence for participants with lower executive and orienting attention. These findings suggest that white noise focuses automatic spreading activation, which may be driven by modulation of dopaminergic circuitry.

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