Should You Study With Music?

Whether they’re studying for a world history final or concentrating on programming homework for coding class, students are often plugged in and listening to music on headphones. Enter a library or homework space and it seems studying with music is the norm rather than the exception.

But should your child study with music? It depends.

The effect of background sound on task performance has been studied in depth for the past 40 years “in a phenomenon known as the irrelevant sound effect,” said Dr. Nick Perham, a lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, U.K.

“The Mozart effect” theory is often dumbed down to “listening to music will make you smarter,” but studies do show that music can improve memory and attention, pump you up or slow you down, among other things. One study from the Stanford School of Medicine showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory.

All students are different and have different study skills and strategies. Whether music works is up to the individual, said Dr. Joseph Cardillo, author of “Body Intelligence: Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life.”

Music permeates every part of the brain, said Cardillo.

“This means that music can influence your memory, speed of recall, perceptions, emotions, organization, neurochemistry and behavior — all of which can extend positive influence over studies,” he said.

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Andy Tallent