Creating an environment that would stimulate creativity, boost motivation, and improve concentration for effective studying entails many tries and errors. It is also one of those controversial topics causing heated debates – solitary studies or with palls in the library, total silence, or background noise. Some would go further in crafting strategies for what subject or type of assignment to tackle first. But what about music? Is it benefiting your student’s productivity or causing a distraction? Which genre and mood to choose? Let’s talk about music.
Music To Your Ears
It would not be fair to discuss any scientific findings proving the benefits of music for cognitive abilities without stating the crucial point. It is very individual. How you react to music when studying and whether it would help you learn would strongly depend on your personality. Both in terms of personal preferences and specific features of an individual’s psyche.
For starters, any benefits from listening to music while studying would be diminished if a person is not used to and does not like music sounds. Such people exist, and they probably could enjoy a concert or a musical show but would not voluntarily choose to play melodic sounds as a background to the primary activity. Regardless of the positive effects music could have on a human brain, a person with such preferences would most probably be distracted and irritated by an unusual noise.
Let’s not forget about personality traits. Introverts and extroverts differ not only when put in social contact. This categorization is also based on typical arousal levels in normal conditions. So, a person with ordinarily low neural system arousal could benefit from listening to upbeat music when tackling an assignment for school. Unconsciously, a human’s heartbeat speeds up to match the music tempo. It means more oxygen-full blood pumping into the brain, which is excellent for cognitive efforts. On the contrary, more anxious people with ordinarily higher neural arousal would get nervous and irritated. Mental fatigue would come sooner too.
Regardless of personal taste and preferences, the effects of music on cognition are numerous.
On the most superficial level, music helps drown other noises. It is an essential feature for students often living in loud dormitories. With fewer distractions, it is easier to focus on the task at hand. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with people, commitments, and noises that jeopardize your academic performance, you may want to hire a writer for an essay or quiz completion. Your own concentration may be insufficient for a high grade.
Even those in the opposite scenario who prefer studying in the quiet, peaceful libraries could sometimes benefit from some sounds in their headphones. Seemingly silent space is, in reality, full of subdued sounds of breathing, coughing, chair scratching floors, and keyboards clicking. Almost unnoticeable right away, this noise can become maddening very soon when a student is trying to concentrate.
Neurological studies proved that music, though a kind of distraction itself, diminishes the effect of other distractors. The brain processes various signals received from the outside world better using the sound buffer. You can visualize this effect as a bubble of sounds guarding your brain against unwanted stimuli.
Improving Comprehension and Retention
Indications were found suggesting that listening to music while reading or studying visual data may negatively affect the quality of understanding that information. However, classical music and slower melodies without lyrics have a positive effect. Research also shows that the music played before dealing with the assignment positively influences the comprehension level. Such an effect is caused by mild suppression of the brain activity to process the music sounds it perceives.
Another beneficial quality of the musical pieces is their being a booster of human memory. As even calm background music requires a cognitive effort, the brain activates additional resources for proper studying. In the long-term evaluations, the retention percentage is higher in those listening to music while learning. It may sound counterintuitive, but when the brain works harder to grasp the information, the neuronal connections are stronger immediately.
Which Music Actually Helps
Remember that any signal your brain receives enacts complex mental activity to identify, process, and act on it. So, the music you choose for your study sessions should be the most comfortable for you. In brief, your study soundtrack should follow such principles:
- slow or mild-tempo music is better for more extended learning stretches to avoid mental fatigue;
- but energetic, upbeat tracks may be a good starting point to wake up and improve the mood;
- choose music without lyrics or with lyrics in a foreign language so your brain does not sidetrack to decode verbal signals;
- avoid turning the study playlist into a new music discovery, so you don’t get too carried away with the fascinating new song.
Music is a powerful tool that can become a motivation booster, energy source, or creativity ignition. Significant anecdotal evidence and scientific research indicate the positive influence of music on the effectiveness of studying. Any student would try this method at some point just for pleasure or productivity increase. Be mindful when creating the playlist for your studies to avoid excessive noise or distractions. And then just push the play button and activate your brain to its maximum.