EEG Reaction and Cognitive Performance of Office Workers at Listening Annoying Sounds

Published: 30 November 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/gmg3snhfp6.1
Ricardo Alexis Perez Berlanga,


Noise pollution in the contemporary workplace is a significant stressor, impacting employee performance and cognitive functions. Alyan et al, (2021) highlighted its effects on physical health, memory, alertness, and job satisfaction. The World Health Organization recommends noise levels under 65dB for auditory well-being. However, the environmental noise levels in office workspaces usually are at the limit or more than that, reaching noise levels of 90dB. This study investigates the effect of environmental noise as phone calls and casual conversations on 15 volunteers aged 20-40 while performing a language-related activity. Participants realized the activity while wearing the Unicorn Hybrid Black headset in two conditions: in a secluded environment without noise and under the influence of pre-recorded sounds simulating an office environment (cellphone notifications, phone calls and conversations). Neural activity was registered with the headset and the results were analyzed. It was discovered that the notification sound was the principal sound that affected the performance of the volunteer during the activity, but this depends on individual personality traits and habits.


Steps to reproduce

To start with the experiment we used the Unicorn Hybrid Black Headset which is an EEG system that we will use to measure the electrical activity of the brain. It uses eight electrodes and 2 reference connectors for left and right. The eight electrodes will measure the electrical activity of brain regions that we labeled as: Fz, C3, Cz, C4, PO1, Pz, PO2, and Oz. These signals will be filtered by a band-pass filter of order 4, with ranges from 0.5 to 40 Hz. Two reference electrodes will also be placed behind both ears. As already mentioned, the test subjects will be subjected to three different recordings which are basal state with eyes open, activity without noise and activity with noise. The basal state test will be done for one minute for reference. The noiseless activity test will consist of an intermediate level English test which has 20 questions and the participant will have a maximum time of 4 minutes to do the activity. The test with sound will also last a maximum of 4 minutes, where another English test with the same amount of questions will be performed. But in this case, the subject will be subjected every 8 seconds to ambient office noises like text message sounds, phone call sounds and background chatter. At the end, the participant will be asked to describe which sound affected him/her the most and will also be given a score to measure his/her performance. Regarding the above-mentioned sounds, conversations have 60 decibels while for both tones the cell phone can reach up to 75 decibels. The files of these recordings will be saved in EDF format.


Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey