Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Although originally viewed only as a childhood disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is now recognized to persist into adulthood in many individuals. Adults with ADHD often demonstrate academic, cognitive, and general functioning deficits as a result of their symptoms. Theorists have suggested that features typically associated with ADHD, such as distractibility, excessive motor activity, and executive dysfunction, may stem from being under stimulated at a physiological level. This lack of arousal potentially causes individuals to seek out stimulation, making them more susceptible to background noise and other environmental stimuli. However, previous research primarily focuses on children and adolescents with ADHD, utilizes few cognitive tasks, and has demonstrated inconsistent results. This study attempted to address limitations in the current literature by examining the effects of white noise on verbal memory, working memory, and response inhibition in adults with and without ADHD. Participants were asked to complete self-report measures of ADHD symptoms and computerized cognitive tasks assessing verbal memory, working memory, and response inhibition, while wearing headphones that broadcast white noise, during half of each task, or no sound, during the other half of each task. A repeated-measures MANOVA analysis indicated that there was no main effect of noise and no significant interaction of diagnostic status and noise on scores, suggesting white noise did not facilitate selective attention. Implications and limitations are discussed.



Committee Chair

Calamia, Matthew