Normally children suffering with ADHD are hard to control and easily distracted, but the researchers found that far from putting them off, the presence of noise seemed to help them concentrate.
The same was true of children with no behavioral disorder but who under-achieved at school.
On the contrary, brighter pupils without ADHD were put off by noise and performed better in silence. "The discovery is surprising, since previous research has indicated that children with ADHD are easily disturbed in distracting environments," the Daily Mail quoted Goran Soderlund of Stockholm University, who led the study, as saying.
For the study, a group of 42 children aged nine to 13, half of whom had ADHD, took part in the first test. The children were read a list of 96 simple verbal command sentences which related to actions, such as "roll the ball" or "break the match". They were then asked to recall as many of the sentences as they could.
Analysis showed that normal children remembered more sentences when the task was carried out in silence. But those with ADHD did better when subjected to white noise - a whooshing sound similar to the static from a radio tuned between stations.
White noise is a combination of all the different frequencies of sound, and analogous to white light. Reserachers say that a possible explanation for the findings could involve dopamine, a neuro-chemical that helps control brain activity.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Review.