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The Scientific Method: Can 'color sound' help us get things done?

A man listens to music from an iPod.
A man listens to music from an iPod.

Color noise — noise that falls under a particular “hue” like white, brown, or pink noise — may be able to help people who are neurodivergent.

Keeping an ambient sound running in the background is pretty easy to do. A simple search on Spotify or YouTube can pull uphours-longvideos of sound. 

Noise is typically designated as a color based on its distribution of frequencies. For example, for light to be classified as white,it needs to contain an equal distribution of all the colors in the spectrum. Similarly, white noise is an equal distribution of all the frequencies on the sound spectrum.

Then there’s brown noise, which has less to do with frequency distribution.It’s a low-frequency sound that gets its “brown” designation from the term“Brownian motion,” named after scientist Robert Brown. Brownian motion describes movement that changes randomly. Similarly, the sound in brown noise is low, but changes at random.

Pink noise isn’t as deep as brown noise — but it still emphasizes low frequencies.

We talk about how these sounds can affect the brain — and how they can be a tool for people with tinnitus or learning differences like ADHD.

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Jorgelina Manna-Rea