Studying can be challenging and finding ways to make it more pleasant is a natural human instinct. But is listening to music really helpful when you’re hitting the books? According to scientific research, there are definitely benefits to listening to music while studying.
Music activates various different areas of your brain and can help you to retain information and maximize learning. But the effects of music on your study habits will depend on your style of learning and choosing music that works best for you.
Stimulate your brain
The pleasure of listening to music might make studying more appealing, but does music help you study? Music changes how you feel, and often in a positive way but there are studies that show that music helps the brain to sort out and categorize information – a significant asset when it comes to studying.
Neuroscientist, Anne Blood, at McGill University in Montreal, says you activate different areas of the brain depending upon what music you listen to and it can stimulate underactive areas in the brain.
Your brain looks for patterns to be able to understand, recall and process information. The benefits may therefore not necessarily depend on the kind of music you listen to, but on how your brain responds to the pattern of a song.
Studying can lead to stress, especially as an exam draws nearer. If you select the right type of music, it can lower your heart rate and your blood pressure, changing your mood and calming you down. Studies have shown that music can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, which makes you feel happier, more motivated and relaxed.
Music helps in many different ways, but you also need to sleep and eat well, take breaks and have clear objectives. The effects of music on writing may be beneficial when it comes to creative writing, but not so much for research papers.
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Typically, high-strung people may benefit the most from soothing music to help them relax and attain the right mental state for studying.
Hip-hop might not be exactly your cup of tea but research done by a couple of Cambridge University Professors found that hip-hop music helped people with mental health issues to study. It uplifted them and they accepted and managed their issues better.
There’s been a lot of debate on the accuracy of the Mozart Effect which claimed that listening to Mozart makes you smarter. Recent research tends to dispute these claims, but there’s still enough compelling data that suggests music may improve spatial reasoning. This means it may improve your ability to visualize better.
A study carried out at John Hopkins University found that playing background music when doing reflection and creative activities, such as brainstorming, writing, and goal setting was helpful and that moving around activities stimulated productivity and increased focus.
Music can help you concentrate by blocking out distracting noise. If you’re studying in a noisy place, you can often study better when you listen to music as you’re not distracted by the noise in the environment. This is why you’ll often see students sitting with headphones on while studying.
Of the music types, classical music for studying has received the most attention. A number of studies have shown that purely instrumental music stimulates certain types of brain waves.
If you’re too focused on lyrics, it can be a distraction rather than helping you to focus. Your ears are hearing the lyrics at the same time as your eyes are reading the words, giving your brain two language-processing tasks at the same time.
If you’re studying mathematics, you aren’t nearly as impacted by the lyrics because your brain doesn’t have to do two language processing tasks together.
The benefits of music to help you study will depend on your individual study habits and the type of music you select. For example, if you’re an introvert, you may prefer silence when you study, whereas if you’re an extrovert, you may prefer the external stimulation that comes from music.
At the end of the day, personality and personal preferences do play a part. Some studies have discovered a negative correlation between lyric-intensive music and study success, but apart from that, it all depends on experimenting a little and finding out what works best for you.
Emma Rundle is a renowned freelancer academic writer specializing in science and engineering. She also works as a writing coach for students who aim to upgrade their skills and become professional authors, writers and writers. In her free time, she likes to compose music, write lyrics, play with her lovely dogs and try her hand in painting.