Reading or studying while listening to music

  1. Does reading or studying while listening to music improve or worsen your mental process?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. For some people such as myself I use to block out external noises. While seriously studying I never pay attention to the music. When I realize the song that is playing I am surprised by the fact that the CD is that far into the tracks. Your brain tends to block out alot of things in the environment.
     
  4. radou

    radou 3,215
    Homework Helper

    I used to listen to music while studying, but I don't practice that anymore. Even when I did so, it was not the type of music I was usually listening too - it was either something new, which I hadn't heard before, or some completely different genre. When you know what you're listening too, you're automatically focused on "what comes next" (i.e. hey that's my favourite solo!). :smile:
     
  5. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I need absolute silence when I study or work.
     
  6. baywax

    baywax 2,215
    Gold Member

    I need a cafeteria full of noise to write essays and stuff. Something to do with ambient noise and free associated words filtering into my writing.
     
  7. Moonbear

    Moonbear 12,265
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    And, thus, the answer is...it depends on the person. :biggrin:

    I focus on things I need to read much better when lost amidst a large crowd, and barring that, with plenty of upbeat music. But, I've known plenty of others who need dead silence to study. One thing for certain, my office with this white noise generator (a.k.a., the noisy air vent) is the absolute worst place for me to focus on anything.
     
  8. Let me rephrase the question, does listening to music while doing homework/studying/reading help the brain in any sort of way. Can any one list advantages and disadvantages about all this?
     
  9. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    The disadvantage for me is that it is distracting. My mantra when studying or working is "Relax and focus." For me it's hard to focus when there are constant distractions.
     
  10. When I study, I either need a constant noise such as my computer or fan (even as loud as a jumbo jet probably wouldn't bother me) or complete silent. Because I have ADD my mind automatically tries to focus on something else, in this case, the music. Even if it's music that I don't know, I'll still focus in on the rhythm or words while I'm studying.
     
  11. Me too! When I told my wife I have trouble studying in an empty house, she told me I like to have someone to ignore! I think that the external distractions, which are easy to block, make me less aware of the self-generated distractions.
     
  12. I have come up with my most creative solutions to work problems when driving a car and listening to classical music. Music with words does not work. It has to be only instruments.

    Driving down a dark empty highway with Mozart works best but I once got an answer to an important problem involving a space craft failure when driving in Los Angeles.
     
  13. I find that i focus better when listening to music. So what can be said about all this? How can this incorporate intelligence? Is there a difference between a genius that works with silence and a person who works while listening to music? I would like a study to be done.
     
  14. Agreed, It has to have no lyrics for me to write with it on- I prefer progressive house or music which is spacial
     
  15. driving is great for me, with or w/out music--its a wonder I haven't killed anyone.
     
  16. chroot

    chroot 10,426
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I find that I need little 30-45 second "mini breaks" during any intense mental activity. As a result, it's absolutely imperative for me to have some kind of distraction available, but it must be relatively unobtrusive. In other words, it needs to be just interesting enough to attract my attention every now and then, but not so interesting that I have a hard time tearing myself away from it.

    I generally listen to progressive trance or downtempo when I'm working hard on something. If the music keeps me tapping my toes, it helps keeps me focused on what I'm doing. I generally don't even look around the room until a song ends. Trance music seems particularly suited for my study habits -- the repitition is actually desirable, since you can enjoy it without having to concentrate on any specific passage. The vocals typically repeat, so they're not distracting. The tempo is fast, and somehow encourages me to work more diligently. It kinda whips me up into a fervor.

    I also play the same movies over and over again while I'm studying -- old favorites like Pulp Fiction and The Matrix, etc. They don't demand any serious attention, since I could probably recite them both by heart now, but they provide the little 30-45 second breaks that I need periodically.

    So, I guess it's true that in my case, music helps me work faster, or at least more intently. I don't know that it makes me any smarter, but it certainly does seem to help me get things done pronto.

    - Warren
     
  17. Years ago I read about some research that showed a positive effect on learning, especially on memory, when info was presented to subjects while they listened to Baroque music, fugues by Bach for example. Supposedly it's the tempo that matters. I haven't seen anything since then, so maybe it was debunked.
     
  18. funny you should mention that recent Nature article said no, at least Baroque + baby not equal to Einstein. bUt who knows they may end up better electric guitar players.
     
  19. It really does depend on the person. Personally I prefer listening to music on the bus or when I am just sitting and thinking like on the train or the bus. When I am doing work I don't like to because there is to much noise.
     
  20. harborsparrow

    harborsparrow 403
    Gold Member

    Like Evo, I cannot study or work well with music playing. Music seems to take over the same part of my brain that does programming and problem solving.
     
  21. I had a book about how to increase your learning abilities.sadley,my dog ate it:)
    but from what I remember,music composed by mozzart has this good efect,if you listen to it at a very low volume...it is called the mozzart efect!
    other tips are clear your desk of ANY objects besides the sheet of paper in front of you and the pencil in your hands,refresh the air in your room before you start studying(if you live in a very poluted area,you should buy an oxigen purifier,but usualy they make loud noise,so use it before you study...it realy helps to have 98% oxigen in your room)
    there was something about a yoga exercise,but I don't remember it...
    as for my advice...take a break every 50 minutes or so,to work permanentley at maximum eficiency.
    and most important(if you work in physics or similar) rite,or draw anything you think of...anything! alwais have a 3D view on the subject!even if it seems childish,do drawings as you interpret it...
    also,eat a lot of choclate(or other sweets) to keep the glucids pumping in(of course,don't exagerate)the brain uses 2 important substances:eek:xygen and glucids!
    naturaly,this is not recomanded for diabetics and similar.
    and remember...if you want your inteligence to rise,don't try those chemicals...they don't work...just work it...and you will see a huge diference!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?