Flickering screens may help children with reading and writing difficulties

University of Gothenburg

Children with reading and writing difficulties who are presented with text on screens with flickering white noise both read better and remember what they have read better, according to a Swedish-Norwegian study.

Previous studies have shown that children with attention difficulties and/or ADHD solve cognitive tasks better when they are exposed to auditory white noise. However, this is the first time that such a link has been demonstrated between both visual and auditory white noise and cognitive abilities such as memory, reading and non-word decoding in children with reading and writing difficulties.

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Porträtt på Göran Söderlund.

Göran Söderlund.
Photo: Agneta Lundberg

“The white noise to which we exposed the children, also called visual pixel noise, can be compared with giving children glasses. The effect on reading and memory was immediate,” explains Göran Söderlund, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Gothenburg and Professor of Special Education at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

11-year-olds tested

The study was conducted on around 80 students in their first year at secondary school in the Småland region of southern Sweden. The children who took part were selected following a word recognition test and were split into three groups: good readers, children with some reading difficulties and children with major reading difficulties (i.e. having phonological impairments).

In the study, the children were asked to read 12 words while being exposed to four different levels of visual white noise, from zero to high. The test involved assessing how many of the words the children could read correctly and how many words they were able to recall afterwards.

White noise improves reading skills and memory

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