Does Steady-State Sound Impair Mental Arithmetic Performance?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Recent findings in semantic auditory distraction has shown that irrelevant content that is semantically similar causes task impairment due to the mechanism of rehearsal being disrupted (Marsh, Hughes & Jones, 2008; 2009). As mental arithmetic is also a task that utilises this process of rehearsal, then the findings of semantic auditory distraction can be applied to mental arithmetic and impairment observed when numbers are played in the background. Current research has shown mental arithmetic to be impaired when performed in the presence of auditory distraction, but with no steady-state effect to be observed to date (Banbury & Berry, 1998; Perham, Hodgetts & Banbury, 2012; Perham, Lawrence & Hodgetts, In Preparation; Perham & Macpherson, 2012). This report hypothesised that the mechanism of rehearsal used in mental arithmetic will be disrupted when single steady-state numbers are repeated over loop similar to what would happen if the background numbers were changing-state. Sixty participants answered a series of mental arithmetic problems in the presence of five sound conditions; Quiet, steady-state letter, dissimilar steady-state numbers, similar steady-state numbers and changing-state numbers. Results showed that all three number conditions as predicted were significantly worse than the letter and quiet condition (p < 0.05). These findings are the first to report a steady-state effect in auditory distraction. Future research and further findings are discussed in more detail.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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