Published: September 25, 2015
Science & Tech Staff Writer
Have you ever thought about how listening to music while studying affects the way you are able to process and retain information? Many students at The University believe that listening to music while they are studying is beneficial to their retention and understanding of the material. Neil Vita, junior finance and accounting double major, usually listens to the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the National while studying because it helps him concentrate. Emily Koerner, sophomore occupational therapy major, listens to either instrumental soundtracks or slower music when studying because she thinks that it helps her stay focused. Mary Grace McIntyre, sophomore biology major, thinks that listening to non-lyrical music can be helpful, but only if she is not doing homework that requires a lot of reading. However, some students think that listening to music while studying is more distracting than focusing. Kathryn Hoffman, junior biology and philosophy double major, says she does not listen to music while studying because it distracts her.
Recently, Roger Johansson, Kenneth Holmqvist, Frans Mossberg and Magnus Lindgren, researchers at Lund University in Sweden, published a paper in Psychology of Music about the use of music while reading and its effect on reading comprehension. The researchers determined that listening to one’s preferred type of music does not hinder reading comprehension; however, listening to non-preferred music does hinder one’s reading comprehension ability. The research participants were no more distracted when studying in silence than when listening to their preferred music. Although listening to their music of choice did not help their reading comprehension level, it also did not hinder their ability to read and retain the information.
Similarly, William Forde Thompson, E. Glenn Schellenberg and Adriana Katharine Letnic published an article in Psychology of Music about their research findings that suggests that the type of music affects one’s ability to study. These researchers found that listening to fast and loud music had a detrimental effect on one’s reading comprehension level. However, in this study, it is unclear if the participants usually studied with fast and loud music. Non-preferential music can affect performance because the music is novel and can draw one’s attention away from studying. This study showed that reading comprehension levels were unaffected by listening to slow, soft classical music. Additionally, this study suggested that music may improve academic performance by improving mood and stimulating the brain. During stressful times, music can relax a person, which can also improve academic performance.
Studies show that listening to music can either be beneficial or detrimental to one’s reading concentration and comprehension level depending on the type of music and also on one’s preferences in music while studying. If you’re looking to modify your studying routine, try listening to soft, slow music; it may just help keep you focused.