Medical Tuesday Blog
Background music helps me concentrate while I study
By Naija Parker | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
I’m sure we all have observed fellow students or even roommates study with music floating through the air. Some of us had to move to the library to do our studies and preparations for class and exams. Now we have researchers from England and Sweden publish a study published in the journal Cognitive Psychology which investigated the impact of background music on creativity.
They examined about 100 students and tested their ability to listen to music while completing an activity using the Compound Remote Associate Tasks (CRATs), which are used to evaluate insight-based creative problem solving. Participants are shown three words, like dress, dial and flower. The students are then required to name one word that could be combined with the three words they were given, such as sun, which would create the words sundress, sundial and sunflower.
The scientists asked the students to complete such a task while eight listening to nothing, background music with foreign lyrics, instrumental music without lyrics or music with familiar lyrics.
After analyzing the results, the team found those who listened to music while doing a task were less creative, compared to those who were in quiet conditions. The music listeners’ creative performance was “significantly impaired.” This impairment was regardless whether the music boosted mood, induced a positive mood, was liked by the participants, or whether participants typically studied in the presence of music.
The researchers did not study why but hypothesized that music disrupts our verbal working memory which makes it difficulty to finish a task.
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