Listening to soothing music can improve cognitive performance, the study suggests

Listening to soothing music can improve cognitive performance, the study suggests

Relaxing background music has been shown to reduce both heart rate and respiratory rate, which can positively affect cognitive performance. New research published in Cognitive Improvement Journal found that listening to three genres of relaxing music (jazz, piano, and lo-fi) can improve cognitive performance.

Research shows that listening to different types of music can improve sustained attention, alertness, and focus of attention. However, other studies show that background music can disrupt cognitive performance (i.e. text comprehension, verbal memory).

For the present study, study author Ulrich Kirk and colleagues were interested in comparing whether different types of relaxing background music could affect cognitive processing and physiological activity. “The study recruited four groups of participants in which each group was exposed to a specific musical genre compared to a control group with no music. In an inter-group design, the study exposed three separate groups a Jazz music, piano musicAnd lo-fi music respectively. The fourth group was a control group without music. “

The researchers sampled 108 adult participants without heart or stress conditions for this study. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups. The study took place over three days in which participants were measured for mental wandering (sustained attention), acute attention, and heart rate variability (HRV). Importantly, the participants were measured for acute attention while listening to music and measured for prolonged attention after listening to music.

On the first day, participants completed basic measures of sustained attention and HRV. On the second day, the participants were taken to a room, received headphones, and listened to music corresponding to their experimental conditions while also being monitored for HRV. They were also measured for acute attention during the last 5 minutes of listening to music and for sustained attention at the end of the session.

On the third day, the participants repeated the procedure from day 2 and listened to the same music again. The only difference is that some attendees listened to a 15 minute clip on day 2 and then a 45 minute clip on day 3 and other attendees listened in the opposite order. Three weeks later, the participants returned to complete another 15-minute music session and attention activity. Participants were asked to listen to their assigned piece of music at least 10 times over the three weeks to increase familiarity with the music.

The results show that those who listened to music (regardless of duration) performed higher than the control group without music. Additionally, those who listened to music (all three genres) showed increased performance during the study period for 15- and 45-minute music sessions.

Similarly, those who listened to music (regardless of duration) showed a higher HRV than the control group without music. There was an increase in HRV during the study period for those who listened to music, but this increase was also observed in the no-music control group. These differences were observed for both the 15- and 45-minute conditions.

The results of the follow-up test three weeks later show that those who listened to music had faster reaction times than the control group without music. The results also show that those in the music groups showed an improvement in reaction time to follow-up compared to those in the no-music control group who showed no differences. Finally, those in the no-music control group had lower HRV at follow-up than the other three music groups.

The researchers cite some limitations to this work, such as not including an active control group such as rock music. Future research showing what music it is Not relaxing can to compromise performance can increase confidence in these results. Another limitation is not measuring how participants felt about the music they were listening to. Perhaps being fond of music in general can increase performance.

The study, “Effects of Three Genres of Focus Music on Heart Rate Variability and Sustained Attention”, was written by Ulrich Kirk, Christelle Ngnoumen, Alicia Clausel and Clare Kennedy Purvis.

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