Health & Wellbeing


Can white noise and dopamine help you learn new words?

University of Queensland researchers are investigating whether white noise and dopamine can improve brain function and recall of new words in a study, open to right-handed Brisbane residents.

Dr Marie-Pier McSween, from the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said dopamine can temporarily stimulate brain areas and was linked to motivating behaviour.

“Previous research has shown that dopamine, a chemical produced by our brains, plays an important role in forming memory within structures of the brain that are linked to various aspects of learning,” Dr McSween said.

“Other research has shown that listening to white noise may improve some aspects of cognitive performance in individuals with lower attention spans.

“The aim of this research is to examine how white noise and changes in dopamine might influence the ability to learn new words in healthy adults.”

The research team is on the hunt for participants to take part in the paid study at the Centre for Clinical Research, Herston, Brisbane.

Participants — aged between 18 and 35, right-handed, with English as a first language — will receive 50 dollars plus one dollar extra for each word learned correctly in a two and a half hour research session.

“At the beginning of the session, participants will be asked to take one capsule of Levodopa or a placebo,” Dr McSween said.

“Levodopa is a precursor to dopamine, which provides a safe method to temporarily stimulate brain activity while learning, while a placebo is an inactive substance.

“Participants will then complete a word learning task while white noise is delivered through headphones and their brain activity is scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

“By using neuroimaging to determine the effects of manipulating dopamine and white noise, this research will for the first time determine if auditory white noise interacts with dopamine to boost new word learning.”

Interested individuals can find out more online.


From: The University of Queensland