That is Music to my Ears!

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) students enjoy white noise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Students with ADHD have a greater ability to learn and perform in school while white noise is playing in the background. With some students, the white noise is complementary with ADHD medicine. However, white noise can be used as a replacement for the ADHD medicine with other students.

Goran Sodurland of Stockholm University and his team of researchers conducted this experiment at a secondary school in Sweden. The researchers observed certain ADHD children's concentration improved with the addition of white noise while the non-ADHD children had a poorer performance with the white noise. Sodurland explains, "Our study shows that different brains need different levels of external noise to work properly".

"Adding white noise during your ADHD diagnosed child's homework might show an improvement in concentration."

The white noise used in Sodurland's study was a screeching 78 decibels (think vacuum cleaner), so it isn't practical to use such loud noises in a classroom containing both ADHD and non-ADHD students. One solution may be headphones for the ADHD students during school.

This study is quite surprising as ADHD students generally have difficulty in distracting environments. Researchers explain that the white noise may cause the brain to produce higher levels of dopamine through a phenomenon called stochastic resistance (noise reaching a certain threshold for a signal to be produced, in this case, dopamine production). Non-ADHD students already have adequate amounts of dopamine, which is a chemical messenger to the brain.

This is an inexpensive approach which can possibly help your child improve his learning skills. Many white noise CD's are available on line.

So, if you want to try a non-medical approach to your child's ADHD, experiment with different white noises accompanying his or her study time. It could be that just a gentle sound of running water or a fan in the study room will do the trick.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 22, 2011
Last Updated:
October 2, 2012