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Noise Health. 2009 Oct-Dec;11(45):194-8. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.56212.

Effects of road traffic noise and irrelevant speech on children's reading and mathematical performance.

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Laboratory of Applied Psychology, Centre for Built Environment, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden.


Irrelevant speech in classrooms and road traffic noise adjacent to schools have a substantial impact on children's ability to learn. Comparing the effects of different noise sources on learning may help construct guidelines for noise abatement programs. Experimental studies are important to establish dose-response relationships and to expand our knowledge beyond correlation studies. This experiment examined effects of road traffic noise and irrelevant speech on children's reading speed, reading comprehension, basic mathematics, and mathematical reasoning. A total of 187 pupils (89 girls and 98 boys), 12-13 years old, were tested in their ordinary classrooms. Road traffic noise was found to impair reading speed (P<0.01) and basic mathematics (P<0.05). No effect was found on reading comprehension or on mathematical reasoning. Irrelevant speech did not disrupt performance on any task. These findings are related to previous research on noise in schools and the implications for noise abatement guidelines are discussed.

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