It is hard to overstate the effect music has on our minds. Music can bring back memories, incite emotions and even relieve anxiety.
However, it also induces an ongoing question in schools: Does listening to music boost performance? Some say it can hinder concentration, others say it creates a metal cubicle for the listener. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle.
The argument all started in 1993, when an experiment was conducted to show Mozart’s effect on the brain. The experiment, which was later published in Nature magazine, showed an increase in spatial reasoning when people listened to Mozart.
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize patterns and manipulate them mentally. It may not sound important, but spatial reasoning is critical in psychology and even computer science. The results of the famous experiment were later called the “Mozart Effect.”
Since the Mozart Effect, hundreds of experiments have been conducted to analyze the effect of music on brain functions and abilities.
Some say music helps them work, and that is partially true. If you are doing work that is repetitive and doesn’t require much thought, music will help. However, if you need to memorize something or need to do critical thinking, it would be best to leave music out of it.
In a study carried out by University of Wales Institute, students listened to music while attempting to memorize a series of consonants in order. The group of students completed the task listening to music that they liked, music that they disliked, and in complete silence.
The study showed that it is best to memorize and retain music without music. The students mainly performed the same despite their preference of music.
Of course, listening to music while working has its benefits. It obviously drowns out background noise, and for people who are easily distracted, this can be very helpful. Music also has been shown to improve the worker’s mood.
Studies done by University of Windsor in Canada exhibited the effect of music on the productivity of software developers. The research showed an overall lower performance with the developers when they had no background music. The participants also noted the music improved their mood and work ethic.
Should you listen to music while working? Ultimately, you should do whatever suits you best.
If someone does choose to listen to music while working, it is recommended to listen to music without words. The words of the artist could overtake the voice in your mind that keeps you focused and doing an efficient job.
The music shouldn’t be too loud. Very loud music can disrupt the symmetry between the right and left halves of the brain. This can lead to a disrupted state
Scientists recommend that you try something different. If you do listen to music while working, try turning it off for an assignment, and vice versa. You never know what could work for you.
After all, the effect music has on the brain is perplexing scientists to this day.
Extremely well written article Dave!