An experimental study of the effects of noise upon short term memory

  • Maria Kwoka

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The overall aim of this study was to examine experimentally the effects of noise upon short-term memory tasks in the hope of shedding further light upon the apparently inconsistent results of previous research in the area. Seven experiments are presented.

The first chapter of the thesis comprised a comprehensive review of the literature on noise and human performance while in the second chapter some theoretical questions concerning the effects of noise were considered in more detail follovred by a more detailed examination of the effects of noise upon memory.

Chapter 3 described an experiment which examined the effects of noise on attention allocation in short-term memory as a function of list length. The results provided only weak evidence of increased selectivity in noise. In further chapters no~effects Here investigated
in conjunction vrith various parameters of short-term memory tasks e.g. the retention interval, presentation rate. The results suggested that noise effects were significantly affected by the length of the retention interval but not by the rate of presentation.

Later chapters examined the possibility of differential noise effects on the mode of recall (recall v. recognition) and the type of presentation (sequential v. simultaneous) as well as an investigation of the effect of varying the point of introduction of the noise and the importance of individual differences in noise research.

The results of this study were consistent with the hypothesis that noise at presentation facilitates phonemic coding. However, noise
during recall appeared to affect the retrieval strategy adopted by the subject.
Date of AwardSept 1977
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorD. Roy Davies (Supervisor)


  • noise
  • short term memory

Cite this