The Curious Effects of Background Noise on Reading Comprehension


According to a study from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Russia, background noise like coffee shop chatter or traffic doesn’t hinder our comprehension of written text. While it may slow down reading speed, dealing with a cluttered text actually increases the pace, possibly due to a desire to finish quickly. The study examined auditory and visual distractions and found that auditory noise prolonged reading time but didn’t affect comprehension, while visual noise increased reading speed without impacting understanding. These findings support the theories that our brains rely on intelligent guesswork and extract enough information for a satisfactory understanding when faced with distractions.


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