Does music help you focus? It depends

Sheltering in place has all of us asking how we can better work and learn from home. We’ve talked about strategies for creating a more productive home workspace such as putting on real clothes, maintaining a schedule, and eating meals away from your desk, but what about music? When it comes to asking whether music helps or harms concentration, the answer is: it depends.

Psychology researchers conducted an experiment where they had volunteers complete a variety of tasks from simple ones such as crossing off words in a list that start with “a” to more difficult ones like remembering word sequences and pairings. Participants completed these tasks while listening to music ranging from simple instrumental tracks to complex songs with vocals. 

The researchers found that the beneficial nature of music depends on the task at hand. While completing simple tasks, music boosted participant performance, but when it came to more complex tasks, the music slowed participants down. 

The reasoning behind the findings is pretty logical. When we complete simple tasks, our brains are not working hard so music can keep us focused and eliminate distraction while still allowing us to concentrate. When our brains are more actively engaged with a complex task, music can take away from our attention and critical thinking. 

The researchers did acknowledge that personality comes into play when deciding whether or not to work with music playing. People who are fueled and inspired by external stimulation from their surroundings such as sounds, smells, and sights might be drained by listening to music while trying to take in the world around them. Similarly, people who are easily drawn off task by external factors could benefit from the audio barricade between them and the neighbor’s TV. 

To summarize, if you or your child is working on a simple or repetitive task, some music could help boost engagement, but when it comes time to write that essay or analyze the intricate details of an expense report, it might be best to hit pause. 

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Does music help you focus? It depends

Sheltering in place has all of us asking how we can better work and learn from home. We’ve talked about strategies for creating a more productive home workspace such as putting on real clothes, maintaining a schedule, and eating meals away from your desk, but what about music? When it comes to asking whether music helps or harms concentration, the answer is: it depends.

Psychology researchers conducted an experiment where they had volunteers complete a variety of tasks from simple ones such as crossing off words in a list that start with “a” to more difficult ones like remembering word sequences and pairings. Participants completed these tasks while listening to music ranging from simple instrumental tracks to complex songs with vocals. 

The researchers found that the beneficial nature of music depends on the task at hand. While completing simple tasks, music boosted participant performance, but when it came to more complex tasks, the music slowed participants down. 

The reasoning behind the findings is pretty logical. When we complete simple tasks, our brains are not working hard so music can keep us focused and eliminate distraction while still allowing us to concentrate. When our brains are more actively engaged with a complex task, music can take away from our attention and critical thinking. 

The researchers did acknowledge that personality comes into play when deciding whether or not to work with music playing. People who are fueled and inspired by external stimulation from their surroundings such as sounds, smells, and sights might be drained by listening to music while trying to take in the world around them. Similarly, people who are easily drawn off task by external factors could benefit from the audio barricade between them and the neighbor’s TV. 

To summarize, if you or your child is working on a simple or repetitive task, some music could help boost engagement, but when it comes time to write that essay or analyze the intricate details of an expense report, it might be best to hit pause. 

Solution News Source

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