• The Effect of Sound on Attention Restoration

      Brown, Melissa M.; Bennett, Matthew; The College at Brockport (2019-05-17)
      Prolonged use of directed attention leads to cognitive fatigue, characterized in part by a reduced capacity to maintain focus. Studies have shown that recorded nature sounds can have a stimulating effect on the process of recovering from attentional fatigue; other studies also suggest that the emotional response to sound may affect the restoration of directed attention. To see if a preference for natural sounds might explain their restorative quality, we compared the effects of bird calls and music on the rate of attention restoration. We induced cognitive depletion in 116 college undergraduates and then tested their attentional capacity using a digit span backwards task before and after exposure to a sound condition. We also used the Geneva Emotional Music Scale to evaluate participants’ emotional response to the sound. Hypothesis tests revealed no statistically significant effect of sound type on restoration, nor any significant correlations between measures of emotional response to music and attention restoration. Findings do offer some weak support for our hypothesis; we discuss this alongside problems with the study design and suggestions for future studies.