Music is a very important part of our daily lives. We listen to it in the car every day, at school, work, at home while doing the dishes or just to relax. The link between listening to music and cognitive performance has sparked the interest of many researchers in the field. Although research has shown some contradictive and ambiguous results, there are some useful insights which are worth looking into. Using music for concentration and relaxation is a method proven by many scientific studies. If you go to any college library you will see most students listening to music while reading or doing their projects. But has anyone asked the question: How does music affect the brain?
In this article, we will share some interesting information and give some answers about the effects of music on the brain and especially on concentration and attention span.
What are the effects of listening to music?
Many people like listening to music while studying or working. Listening to one’s favorite song while studying for an exam or doing homework can be very beneficial for staying focused. Even students with anxiety and depression are able to concentrate better while listening to music.
In the workplace, music can improve productivity and bring the attention back to the present moment. Music also has the ability to improve the mood of students and employees and allows them to focus better and work on their tasks faster. Employees who listen to music may work more quickly than those who do not.
When music is used to stimulate the brain and help with concentration regularly, over time, people become stronger and more focused.
Overall, listening to music can not only improve concentration but also decrease stress and activate different sections of the brain at the same time. How does music affect the brain to trigger the positive effects depend on the type of music, the tempo and how often one listens to it and in what situations?
Music has the ability to affect one’s concentration making it easier or harder to focus, the effect depends mainly on the person but also on the type of music. Some people say that any type of music disturbs their concentration. So, it is not a proven solution that works for everyone.
There are numerous studies and research in the field which show that through music people are able to concentrate better, comprehend new concepts and solve problems faster. In general, music has positive effects on the brain and cognitive functions.
But How Does Music Affect the Brain?
While listening to music the brain releases dopamine, which improves memory and relieves pain. Enjoying music has positive effects on language-related memory. Singing, listening and playing music together help people connect because they make them more trusting and generous. That is why in churches many people gather to sing and listen to religious music. Listening to music also triggers parts of the brain which control creativity and motor activities. It can help in the healing process of sections damaged by disease or injury.
What type of music helps affect the brain and concentration at the same time?
The style, rhythm, volume of the music one listens to, as well as their personality, are some of the important factors to consider. For example, classical music is known to be the best for listening while studying; however, there is no firm evidence of the effect.
Nonetheless, what is proven is that listening to music with a steady, repetitive sounds at not very high volume helps concentration better than loud and inconsistent music styles. Some people perform better when listening to neutral music, rather than their favorite songs.
Personality can also affect performance. For example, introverts performed worse than extroverts in the presence of music. Similarly, people who are bad at multitasking may show worse results when music is playing in the background. Music is a great instrument to help with the stress and anxiety during examination periods.
A study shows that some types of music can improve cognitive performance and minimize the effects of stress and anxiety. It focused on the impact of volume and different genres of music on students. So, it is not only about listening to music but the kind of music matters as well. Below we will look at the types of music and their effects.
For our purposes, we will divide music in hard and soft. Music with hard vocals can distract, while the background vocals enhance concentration. On the other hand, experts suggest that listening to classical music while studying may be able to accelerate learning capabilities and boost brain power in people of all ages. Fast and dynamic music can energize the body and the mind. While slow music and the sound of some instruments may help fight stress and reduce anxiety. In general, people perform better in the presence of soft music.
How music influences cognitive performance may also depend on the personality type.
A study from 1997 (Furnham and Bradley) suggests that pop music can be a great distractor for both introverts and extroverts. However, introverts were more affected. In the presence of music, extroverts will outperform introverts. In fact, this study went deeper to show evidence that background noise, such as chatter, TV, music and so on could improve the performance of complex cognitive tasks in extroverts, but it has a negative effect on the performance of introverts. So, taking your iPod and a set of headphones may help you concentrate by isolating any ambient sounds.
There is no absolute piece of research which tells exactly how does music affect the brain, what type of music will help people perform better, so how you do ultimately depends on you. However, listening to music has shown that music affects the brain causing the release of dopamine, meaning a more rewarding and pleasurable experience which can help individuals relax on the subway or concentrate. With the development of technology we can enjoy our favorite music anywhere, so the choice is yours. There is enough great music from all genres to help you during hard days.
Do you want to know more about the subject: 8 Surprising Ways Music Affects and Benefits our Brains