The sounds of our surroundings have a more or less effect on the mental performance. Music has an unjustified reputation for being detrimental to the ability to concentrate.
Because with the right selection, not only does memory performance and thus learning success improve – the mood also noticeably improves.
How does music affect our psyche? What do the studies say?
If sounds are perceived as music, it is because different areas in the brain work together. The ability to do this is already inherent in the womb.
Alexandra Lamon, a psychology professor at Keele University in the UK, has shown in a study that babies would recognize music that they often heard in the womb if they heard it again more than a year after birth.
But not only that.
The children even liked the familiar piece of music more than others. Again and again people claim that they are not musical. There are no unmusical people like neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, who teaches at McGill University, has found out.
Because even people who claim to not hit a note correctly can sing surprisingly well after pop songs by Michael Jackson or Madonna.
His German colleague Stefan Koelsch showed in a study that listening to happy pieces of music significantly decreases the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol and that fewer anesthetics are needed during an operation.
In Singapore, it was found that senior citizens in retirement homes are less likely to experience depression if they listen to their favorite music for at least half an hour a day. Even in stroke and Alzheimer’s patients, better brain performance is achieved through music.
People suffering from multiple sclerosis improve their memory skills with music. The “Mozart Effect” has been known since the 1990s. The psychologist Frances Rauscher divided college students into two groups.
One part was played a piano sonata by Mozart for ten minutes, the other students did not listen to music. Then an intelligence test was carried out in which the Mozart group scored significantly higher.
Music can even model the brain. Anyone who starts playing an instrument before the age of seven has a much thicker connection between the two halves of the brain than people who do not make music.
This is accompanied by an increase in the so-called gray matter and better networking of the nerve cells.
In a diligent work, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has compiled all relevant studies on music and the improvement of concentration and intelligence.
How is our ability to concentrate influenced?
The “Mozart Effect” not only ensures better spatial imagination, but also overall higher memory performance.
This also applies to the ability to concentrate. Music that is perceived as pleasant triggers better blood flow in certain areas of the brain and more intensive neural circuitry.
Especially in the limbic system. Reactions that cause fear or alertness are simply switched off by music.
Difficult learning content is easier to memorize and the ability to concentrate to solve tricky tasks is retained. So if you want to improve your ability to concentrate and listen to music while studying, you are doing everything right.
In addition to the improved ability to concentrate, there is a pleasant side effect: Music lifts the mood and thus also the motivation.
In order to increase the ability to concentrate, any music that corresponds to one’s own taste is basically suitable. Nevertheless, it has been found that all pieces of music with 56 to 64 beats per minute are best suited to stimulate the ability to concentrate.
This rather calm pace corresponds to the rhythm of the heartbeat. Heavy metal, techno and fast, booming beats are less suitable when it comes to the ability to concentrate and can make you nervous.
Rap, with its many text units, is also counterproductive for the ability to concentrate. Nevertheless, not everyone has to listen to Mozart or Beethoven to motivate the gray matter.
Because the researchers agree that rock music can also trigger the “Mozart effect”. Incidentally, it should be particularly good for the ability to concentrate when nature noises are mixed with the sounds.
In which scenarios does music promote the ability to concentrate?
Music is the ideal support, especially when memorizing. But the ability to concentrate is also required when driving. Listening to music can help you stay fit behind the wheel.
However, too high a volume can be just as distracting as lyrics that make you dream.
When jogging, sounds that match the running pace are required. Because beats that are too fast can drive you to go beyond your own capabilities. When football clubs or major events like the World Cup have their own songs, it creates a sense of togetherness.
Just like certain songs or melodies and touch or inspire, it is with sounds. Harp and guitar have a calming effect, while drum rhythms have a stimulating effect.
Nevertheless, nobody has to switch to Mozart in order to improve their ability to concentrate if they cannot do anything with this type of music. Because there is no such thing as really wrong music. If the worst comes to the worst, the brain is able to select the sounds and turn down too high a noise level.
Conclusion – does music increase the ability to concentrate?
Music can not only improve concentration, it can also improve mood. If you want to optimally promote your memory performance, it is best to put together a playlist with “learning songs”.
If it is not clear whether the selection contains the optimal 56 to 64 beats per minute, this can be tried out with a beats per minute counter.
The playlist itself should run for a maximum of two hours and at a moderate volume. The radio is not a good alternative because there is far too much talk in between.