How to Focus While Listening to Music if You’re Studying

Researchers have identified the ‘irrelevant sound effect’ (ISE) as a potential cognitive impairment when trying to listen to music while studying to memorize things in order due to the changing words and notes in a song. However, studies have shown that listening to background music before a task can increase cognitive processes like attention and memory, as it increases arousal and positive mood.

Study.com provides course materials on cognitive perspectives and cognition, focusing on improving memory and study skills, including short- and long-term memory enhancement, retrieval, and forming better study habits.

The benefits of listening to music while studying

Students increasingly bring headphones to study halls, but the ‘Mozart effect’, which suggests music can enhance intelligence, has been widely refuted. However, there are still numerous benefits to listening to music while studying.

Soothing and relaxing music can help students beat stress or anxiety, improve focus, boost mood, aid endurance during long sessions, and in some cases, aid in memorization by creating a positive mood, indirectly boosting memory formation. Overall, music can provide numerous benefits for students’ study experience.

The drawbacks of listening to music while studying.

Music can be beneficial for students, but it can also be distracting. Lyric-driven music can lead to less efficiency and less information absorbed. Loud or agitated music can affect reading comprehension and mood, making focus difficult.

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Students who use music for memorization may need to listen to it while taking tests, as silent environments may make it harder to recall information. The effects of music on study habits depend on the student and their learning style. Distracted students should avoid music to maintain focus, while multi-tasking students may find it helpful.

Listening to music while studying

The best types of music to listen to while studying

What kind of music helps you concentrate (1)

  • Popular study music options include classical music, instrumental music, nature sounds, lo-fi and chill hop, film or video game soundtracks, minimalist or electronic music, binaural beats, and brainwave entrainment.
  • Classical compositions with slower tempos and minimal vocals, such as Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, create a calm and focused atmosphere for studying.
  • Instrumental genres like ambient, acoustic, and piano provide a relaxing background for studying.
  • Combining nature sounds with ambient music or gentle instrumental tracks can create a peaceful and immersive study environment.
  • Lo-Fi and chill-hop music are known for their laid-back beats and calming melodies, making them popular among students for creating a relaxed but focused atmosphere.
  • Film or video game soundtracks, minimalist or electronic music, binaural beats, and brainwave entrainment are also great study companions, focusing on repetitive patterns and maintaining a steady rhythm of concentration.

The worst types of music to listen to while studying

  • Music can be distracting and hinder the focus on studies. Energetic and upbeat music, like pop, rock, or dance, can be distracting.
  • Lyric-heavy music with complex or emotionally charged lyrics can distract from study content, as the brain might process the lyrics instead of absorbing the content.
  • Aggressive or intense music, like heavy metal or aggressive rap, can evoke strong emotions that interfere with concentration.
  • Listening to familiar music can lead to daydreaming or singing, interrupting the study flow. Listening to music in unfamiliar languages can distract from studying.
  • Complex or experimental music can be mentally demanding, while noise or dissonance can disrupt concentration. Avoiding music with strong personal emotional associations can also interfere with staying on task.
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Conclusion

Cardiff researchers have found that while music may still aid cognitive abilities in memorizing lists, it may not be as effective as previously thought. The study suggests that studying for exams in silence or allowing Jack to dictate may be more effective than relying solely on music.

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listening to music while studying
listening to music while studying

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