Noise affects the cognitive development of young children in school


  • External stimuli, such as noise, can affect the rapid process of cognitive development that occurs before adolescence.
  • Noise exposure at school during the day is more harmful than that at home because it affects poor windows for concentration and learning processes.

To choose the right school for your child, the level of road noise around the facility seems to be an element to take into consideration! In fact, its true impact on children’s health is still not well understood, but a new study published in PLoS Medicine conducted in 38 schools in Barcelona allows us to take a measure of the problem.

The experiment involved 2,680 children between the ages of 7 and 10, and the study fieldwork was conducted over a 12-month period in 2012 and 2013, with participants taking cognitive tests on four occasions. During the same period, noise measurements were made in front of 38 participating schools, as well as on playgrounds and within classrooms.

slower cognitive development

According to the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), children who attend schools with heavy traffic have slower cognitive development. À titre d’exemple, une augmentation de 5 dB des niveaux de bruit extérieur a entraîné un développement de la mémoire de travail 11,4 % plus lent que la moyenne et un développement de la mémoire de travail plus 23 %, Average. Similarly, exposure to external traffic noise of 5 dB developed attention span 4.8% slower than average.

Essential skills for learning and academic success

Attention and working memory are two skills that develop rapidly during the pre-adolescence period and are essential for learning and academic success. Attention includes processes, such as selective attention to specific stimuli or focusing on a specific task for an extended period. Working memory is the system that allows us to save information in our mind and manipulate it for a short period of time. When we need to process information stored in working memory efficiently and continuously, we use what is known as complex working memory.

Bad performance

In an analysis of outdoor noise in schools, higher average noise level (a street with heavy road traffic 80 dB) and greater variability in noise levels (as one passes from higher to lower noise) were both weakly correlated. Student performance in all tests.

Within the classroom, greater fluctuation in noise levels was also associated with slower progress throughout the year on all cognitive tests. However, children exposed to higher average noise levels in the classroom (a noisy class of 70 dB) throughout the year performed worse than students in quieter classes only on the dB test. Be careful, but not on tests of working memory.

“This finding suggests that the noise peak within the classroom may be more disruptive to neurodevelopment than the mean decibel level.”Maria Forster, a researcher at ISGlobal and lead author of the study commented. “This is important because it supports the hypothesis that noise characteristics may be more influential than average sound levels, despite the fact that current policies rely only on average decibels.”

transport effects

This study adds to the body of evidence regarding the effects of transportation on children’s cognitive development, which has so far been observed in schools exposed to aircraft noise as well as in schools exposed to traffic-related air pollution. “The health of the population, especially the most vulnerable groups such as children, should be the basis of urban planning”Can we read a press release from Inserm.

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