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White Noise and ADHD


Karen Ramirez of is a conceptual sound designer from Toronto and is the owner of a website dedicated to sharing various auditive forms of white noise -- any monotonous hum or drone created by all the audible frequencies of sound combined at the same time and density, for example, the murmur of an electrical fan.

Proponents of white noise claim that when used with headphones, the resulting effect can aid concentration by masking irritating or distracting noises in a person’s environment.

Ramirez states in an online interview, “Research on children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has shown that they are extremely sensitive to distraction from external stimuli that lead to poor cognitive performance. A dissertation from the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University shows that cognitive performance can be improved if this external stimulus is smooth and continuous -- for example, auditory white noise.”

“Noise through a phenomenon called stochastic resonance (SR), can be beneficial in dopamine deprived neural systems. The statistical phenomenon of SR explains how the signal-to-noise ratio can be improved by noise in neural systems where the passing a threshold is required,” explains Ramirez.

The thesis concludes that external auditory noise can restore low dopamine levels and thus improve cognitive performance, especially for persons with a deficient dopamine function, such as ADHD children.

Ms. Ramirez offers a motley assortment of white noise on her site in the form of digital recordings including waterfalls, rainstorms, ocean waves and brooks.

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