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.