Listening to music can impair cognitive abilities

Many students have a habit of listening music while studying. They feel more energetic and alert by studying and listening to music together. A set of research in early 1990’s indicated that listening to Mozart’s music may increase a short-term improvement on the performance, the so-called Mozart Effect. Two decades later a new report has undermined the claims that music increases productivity at work.

About the study
The study led by Nick Perham, PhD, and colleagues at the Wales Institute in Cardiff and will appear in the September 2010 issue of Applied Clinical Psychology. Researchers signed up 25 participants between ages 18 and 30 to examine their ability to recall information in the presence of different sounds tracks.

Different sound conditions where participants were exposed were –

  • Quiet environment, where music was playing that they liked
  • Quiet environment, where music was playing that they disliked.
  • A voice repeating the number three
  • A voice reciting random single-digit numbers.

Music vs. performance
Participants were asked to recall a list of eight consonants in a specific order in a test known as serial recall....

The results revealed that participants performed worst while listening to music, regardless of whether they liked that music, and to the speech of random numbers. They did the best in the quiet and while listening to the repeated “three.”

Authors speculated that “Music may impair cognitive abilities in these scenarios because if you’re trying to memorize things in order, you may get thrown off by the changing words and notes in your chosen song.”

Authors commented on other studies those supports the benefits to listening to music before performing a task that this new research presents a more realistic scenario: hearing music at the same time as doing the expected task.

Source: webmd


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