Impact of Tinnitus on cognitive ability: Irrelevant sound effect
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The ability to perform serial recall tasks is impaired when irrelevant speech or sound is present is known as the Irrelevant Sound Effect (ISE). There is much evidence to show that a variety of sounds can cause ISE including; steady state sounds such as pure tones, changing state sounds which have a variable quality, such as music (with or without lyrics). It would appear, that people who experience tinnitus also hear a variety of sounds internally in the absence of external stimulus, that may be classed as steady or changing state in quality. Within the literature for ISE, the control condition is a quiet state where no external sound is experienced, all other measures of ISE are taken against this score. It is possible that tinnitus may interfere with recall ability in both a negative and positive way, depending on the sound condition. In this study, two groups (11 participants) were compared, one with non-tinnitus (control) and one without tinnitus. They followed a normal ISE paradigm using quiet, steady, liked music and disliked music as the sound conditions whilst recalling 9 digits (1-9). A subjective scale was used to measure feelings relating to actual score and qualities of each condition. The results indicated that the tinnitus group performed better than the non-tinnitus group in the quiet and steady state conditions and then followed normal ISE patterns in their scores, the control group did not follow regular ISE patterns as their results showed that they performed best in both the music conditions. No significant interaction was found between groups. These results do not follow the tinnitus literature relating to reduced cognitive ability or the ISE literature for the control group, therefore future research may be warranted to gain further understanding.
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