Music: Listening to tunes might be getting you worse midterm grades

(Creative Commons photo by Flickr user sfj)

(Creative Commons photo by Flickr user sfj)

Posted by Kevin Piaskowski on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 11:07 am.

Now that winter term has begun, it’s time to start focusing on our studies once again. Everyone has different methods for studying and getting work done, and some methods work better than others for different people. It seems that a popular library technique for getting work done is to plug oneself into some music and finish a paper or study for that impending exam. However, does playing your favorite track that you know all the words to actually help your brain function and process information at its peak capabilities?

A Stanford study shows that brain activity can positively affect brain functions. A news release by the Stanford School of Medicine says, “The research team showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved in paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. Peak brain activity occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements — when seemingly nothing was happening.” Although music may stimulate positive brain activity, it seems to have the greatest effect in transitional moments.

But the Stanford study used subjects that were sitting in an MRI machine passively listening to music. In a studying environment where one is actively trying to concentrate, memorize and retain essential information, music may actually harm your brain activity.

According to a CNN report, music can in fact “impair cognitive abilities” because it serves as a distraction for memorization, especially if the music has changing notes and words. In the direct completion of a task, music may actually be detrimental to the education process and can hinder task completion.

So if you’re one of those people that use music as a tool for making studying sessions more effective, think about it and make sure that you are confident in that the music you are listening to is aiding your studies rather than harming it.



  • CH

    The article did omit how big the sample size was, which was reported by the CNN Report to be relatively small. When trying to establish a point, all counterarguments need to be addressed. That did not occur in this article.

    It was also not mentioned that the report also stated that listening to music before starting a task may help stimulate brain activity.

  • Bleh

    Poorly written article

  • DS

    Winter term started 5 weeks ago….right?

    PS. best music to listen to while studying is Baroque or classical guitar, both great pandora stations. My favorite guitarist is Andy McKee.