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On interpretation and task selection in studies on the effects of noise on cognitive performance
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. 1Department of Building, Energy, and Environmental Engineering, University of Gävle, Sweden.
2014 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 5, no 1249Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses two things researchers should consider when selecting tasks for cognitive noise studies and interpreting their findings: (a) The "process impurity" problem and (b) the propensity of sound to capture attention. Theoretical and methodological problems arise when the effects of noise on complex tasks (e.g., reading comprehension) are interpreted as reflecting an impairment of a specific cognitive process/system/skill. One reason for this is that complex tasks are, by definition, process impure (i.e., they involve several, distinct cognitive processes/systems/skills). Another reason is that sound can capture attention. When sound captures attention, the impairment to task scores is caused by an interruption, not by malfunctioning cognitive processes/systems/skills. Selecting more "process pure" tasks (e.g., the Stroop task) is not a solution to these problems. On the contrary, it introduces further problems with generalizability and representativeness. It is argued that cognitive noise researchers should employ representative noise, representative tasks (which are necessarily complex/process impure), and interpret the results on a behavioral level of analysis rather than on a cognitive level of analysis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers , 2014. Vol. 5, no 1249
Keyword [en]
noise; process impurity; cognition; behavioral level of analysis; theory; method
National Category
Basic Medicine
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112634DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01249ISI: 000344378100001PubMedID: 25400615OAI: diva2:769364
Available from: 2014-12-08 Created: 2014-12-05 Last updated: 2014-12-08

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