When you study, do you have music playing in the background? You might not know that what you listen to could actually help you learn better.
“Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory,” explained Dr. Masha Godkin, a professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at NCU. “Music has the potential to take a person from the Beta brain wave state to deeper Alpha and then Theta brain wave states, depending on the music.”
According to Godkin, classical music, as well as meditation music with added technology like brain entrainment technology is ideal to promote learning. One reason this genre works well is that there are no lyrics to distract you. In fact, classical music with 60-70 beats per minute like Beethoven’s Fur Elise appears to help students study longer and retain more information.
Glenn Schellenberg, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Toronto, published a study that indicates fast, loud background music hinders reading comprehension.
“The reason why it’s a mess is you have cognitive limitations. If you’re doing two things at once, you don’t focus as well,” Schellenberg said.
A recent study published in Learning and Individual Differences found that students who listened to a lecture where classical music played in the background scored significantly higher on a quiz than students who heard the same lecture sans tunes.
Music likely helps learning because it has a profound effect on our mood, blood pressure and heart rate and arousal. For studying, you want music that is medium arousal provoking. Enough to keep you awake, but not enough to agitate.
For the next big paper you write, or test for which you have to study, listen to the classical selections of Beethoven or Bach for the smoothest results.