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Does Music Really Help with Studying?

The link between music and studying.

Many people find that music helps them concentrate while working or studying. On the other hand, there are people who find it impossible to work with any kind of background noise.

This is because, while music has a lot of benefits, it does not affect everyone the same. In this blog, we will discuss how music may and may not help with studying.

Studying – How Music Might Help

1)    Stress Reduction

Music can help lower stress and put you in a more positive frame-of-mind.

In a study conducted in 2013, 60 female participants attempted a stress test while listening to sounds of rippling water, relaxing music, or no particular sound. According to results, music can affect the way in which people respond (both psychologically and physically) to stress. 

Research also suggests that your mood can directly impact your learning outcomes. The better you feel while learning or studying new material, the more successful you are likely to be.

2)    Increased Motivation

As a student, you must have had exhausting days (or nights) when you found it impossible to maintain your resolve to study.

During such times, you may have promised yourself a reward – such as a takeout meal or an episode of your favorite show – to keep yourself going.

According to a 2019 study, listening to music can also activate the reward centers of our brain. In other words, promising yourself a few minutes of your favorite music can serve as an effective motivator for studying.

3)    Improved Focus

A 2007 study revealed that classical music can help our brains better absorb and interpret new information. By engaging the brain, music helps our brain pay more attention to current events and better anticipate future ones.

The ability to make better predictions could also be linked to reasoning skills. In other words, music may help you reason your way to answers based on the information you have.

Music may also serve as a way to improve focus. According to a study involving 41 boys with ADHD, music helped some of the participants improve their classroom performance.

Studying – How Music Might Hurt

1)    Increased Distraction

 Music can be powerfully distracting.

While this is helpful when you are going through a tough day, distraction may well be the last thing you need while trying to study or memorize new material.

Likewise, if you are attempting a complex calculus equation or defending your position on a term paper, excessively loud music may interrupt your thoughts and hinder your progress.

2)    Reduced Working Memory

We use our working memory for learning, problem-solving, and other cognitive tasks. The higher your working memory is, the better you are at handling and processing new information.

Research suggests that music might diminish working memory capacity. Hence, if you already find it hard to organize new information in your mind, incorporating music may make this even more challenging.

3)    Reduced Comprehension

Certain kinds of music – such as fast and loud music or music that contains lyrics – can make it tougher for you to absorb and understand reading material.

So, when history, literature, or other subjects that require a lot of reading, soft and classical music with a lower tempo may be the better choice.

Wrapping Up

While music has several benefits, it may not always work as a study tool. The effects of music on studying can depend upon the individual student and their learning style.

If you find yourself easily distracted, avoiding music while studying might be preferable for you. On the other hand, if you see yourself as a multi-tasker, a bit of music may be able to boost your concentration and retention.