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Brown Noise

Friday, December 30, 2022

From helping us sleep to being more productive during work, white noise—constant background noise—has its benefits. But white noise isn't the only colored noise in the spectrum. Enter brown noise. It is named after Scottish botanist Robert Brown, who in 1827 discovered Brownian motion, which is the way pollen grains in water move under a microscope. Brown noise mimics that motion, with signals changing randomly and producing static. Like white noise, brown noise contains all frequencies, but it places low frequencies at a louder level and high frequencies at a softer level. That counteracts the human ear's natural tendency to hear higher frequencies more loudly.

Studies have shown that brown noise can improve cognitive performance. Just like there are white noise stations and playlists, the internet offers a selection of hours-long videos featuring brown noise. Spotify has even curated an almost 10-hour-long brown noise playlist.


That said, brown noise—as with its counterpart white noise—isn't for everyone. But if you're in the middle of a long workweek and have a lot to accomplish, try turning on some brown noise and see how it helps you.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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