Participate in our study!

Why this study?

Communicating in noisy environments can be difficult. When others are speaking at the same time as us (e.g. in a school classroom or an open office) or when we are surrounded by traffic or construction noise, speaking and listening is more effortful than in quiet environments. This may cause more disruption for children and older adults, which has implications for communication in school or social environments, and for communication with peers with hearing or language impairments.

  • How do some people manage to communicate in challenging situations?
  • Why do others have to concentrate harder and put in more effort?
  • Is there a way to modify and improve the way we communicate to counteract the effects of different types of noise?
  • If so, what does this ability depend on?

These are all questions we are hoping to answer in this study.

Who can participate?

We are recruiting participants aged between 8 and 85 years old. You need to be a monolingual speaker of English, speaking with a Standard Southern British English accent, with typical hearing.

As we are examining the development of language processing, we are not able to include participants who have had speech and language therapy or have any neurological, medical, or learning difficulties (e.g., epilepsy, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, speech and language impairments, dyslexia or dyspraxia).

What commitment is required?

You will need to come to our lab at Chandler House in central London for  about 2 hours 45 minutes spread over two sessions. You can do the sessions on separate days or on the same day separated by a few hours. You will be compensated for your time.

For child participants, parents will also be reimbursed for reasonable family travel costs on public transport.

What will you be doing?

You will carry out some tasks with involve communicating with another participant of a similar age as you. A simple ‘spot the difference’ picture task  is used: you will need to chat with the other participant to work out what the differences are between the two pictures.You will be seated in separate booths and will communicate via headphones; in some conditions you will be able to hear each other easily, in others there will be  other voices or some other noise in the background.

On top of the interactive ‘spot the difference’ task, a number of other simple tasks will be carried out by yourself. These include a vocabulary test, verbal IQ, memory and processing speed tests.

An example of picture pairs used in the ‘Spot the difference’ task

What’s the next step?

To get a full information sheet with further details, or if you have any further queries, contact Linda Taschenberger ( or Outi Tuomainen ( or 020 7679 4232)

This study has been approved by the UCL Research Ethics Committee [Project ID number: 0534/005]