Limited research supports brown noise helping concentration, but some studies indicate white or pink noise may be beneficial.
Brown noise is a low-frequency background sound that has become popular recently, especially among people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some believe it can help them focus and feel calmer.
Using brown noise to manage ADHD symptoms is still relatively new, and limited scientific evidence supports it. Most of the claims are anecdotal.
However, some studies have indicated that listening to white or pink noise may benefit people with difficulties concentrating.
Here’s what research says about brown noise for ADHD, its proven benefits, the difference between brown and white noise, and frequently asked questions.
Brown noise examples
Brown noise is categorized by deep low-frequency sounds without high-frequency sounds that you can use to mask out other distracting noises.
Examples of brown noise include:
- the sound of waves crashing against the shore
- wind blowing through trees
- a running shower
ADHD is typically
The research is extremely limited. However, some studies indicate potential benefits.
A 2021 study found that beta waves, those around 12.5–30 hertz (Hz), improve focus among people with ADHD. However, the study did not specifically mention brown noise and did not consider frequencies below 8 Hz.
Improved cognitive performance
An older 2007 study points out that white and pink noise can benefit cognitive function in people with ADHD and attentional difficulties. In particular, the authors reported that those with ADHD need more noise to reach optimal cognitive performance than those that do not have ADHD. However, the study did not examine the differences between white and brown noise.
Considering that white noise has a balance of all frequencies, while brown noise is more of a bass sound with no treble or high-frequency notes, it’s possible that brown noise may be as helpful as long as there is enough noise. However, this is not proven.
A 2021 study states that beta-range frequencies can positively affect brain stimulation and cognitive function in people with ADHD. Beta-range frequencies are generally 12.5–30 Hz, which fall near the bottom of the low-frequency range. Since brown noise is filled with low-frequency sounds, then this could mean that it’s also helpful to improve cognitive function.
Unlike brown noise, white noise has a balance across the frequencies. Examples include radio static, the sound of a vacuum cleaner, and constant rainfall.
Interestingly, an older, small 2016 study found that children performed better in cognitive task performance when listening to white noise than when taking a stimulant medication.
In a 2019 review, scientists noted that white noise could be therapeutic for children with ADHD. They mentioned improvements like speech recognition and writing and reading speeds.
A more recent 2022 study showed similar results. The researchers looked at 104 preschool children, half of them with ADHD, and tested their attention and behavior while listening to white noise. The results showed that white noise might improve attentional performance, such as reducing mistakes and focusing on goals. It also showed reduced hyperactive behavior.
Additionally, listening to any noise at a high volume for a long time can damage hearing.
Here are some tips on how to get started:
- Download an app on your mobile phone or computer that plays brown noise or white noise.
- Start by listening for 10 minutes at a time and adjust the volume accordingly so it’s comfortable to listen to without being too loud or soft.
- Experiment with different types of noises to see which works best for you.
- Try keeping a journal of how you feel while listening to each noise.
- Consider giving yourself points for every task, big or small, that you manage to complete each day. This can help you measure yourself against the type of noise you listened to and determine which noise potentially makes the biggest difference in productivity.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about brown and white noise for ADHD.
What is binaural brown noise for ADHD?
This is a low-frequency sound with anecdotal reports that it can help people with ADHD drown out their thoughts to focus better on their daily tasks and goals.
Is there a best sound for ADHD concentration?
The research around brown noise is almost nonexistent. However, research shows that white and pink noise could be helpful.
Many people claim that brown noise can help people with ADHD focus and perform better. However, the research is minimal, and no significant studies compare brown noise with other types of noise, such as white and pink, for ADHD.
On the upside, there do not seem to be any serious risks as long as you don’t listen at a high volume.
Still, if you have ADHD, the best way for you to manage the condition so you can focus more and become more productive is to speak with a doctor who understands what’s best for you. They can help by performing tests, providing you with medications that can help, and recommending clinical trials that you might be eligible to join.