Students rack their minds for a sequence of numbers that rapidly slips away. Desperate to prove the school psychologist wrong. Music would not be, could not be a distraction strong enough to wipe away a phone number. The 15 seconds are up, suddenly their memory is put to the test–everyone secretly hoping they are the exception. But only a few numbers were messily scrawled on thin pieces of paper…
Mr. Farrow the Psychologist, “any time you are trying to carefully process information and you add more information to the equation– studying and listening to music at the same time its more stuff for your brain to process and that makes it more difficult.” Working memory is for retaining short-term memory. It is temporary therefore very easily lost with distractions.
Unfortunately taking notes also falls under this category and cannot be classified as a “brainless task.” Instead there are various strides being made to ensure that notes are interactive and not compatible with songs.
Whilst music is eminent amongst students for its ability to set the tone for study sessions; it may be the masked enemy of processing ability.
Mr.Farrow admits “ I love music and listening to it. I like to even…If I am really listening to the music lay down and close my eyes and really focus on the music.”
“Some people will play classical music for their babies because they think it will make them smarter which is probably not so validated by research. There is an idea that listening to instrumentals even more modern electronic music a lot of times may not be as soothing and focus promoting but it can help with focus if it gets you into that mode.”
With music or not, Mr.Farrow states “if you are studying and you are really miserable and hate it then you are probably not going to retain the information that well either.”
US National Library of Medicine studies on state dependant learning provides an underlying link to the impact of music whilst studying. The idea behind this research is that the environment you study in should mimic that of the one you write an exam in. If you studied surrounded by loud pop-music you would perform better if you take the test in a noisy setting.
Back in class–Hannah ‘19 and Forrest ‘19 both had faith in their ability to remember the series of numbers–ultimately they too were underwhelmed by their results.
It is interesting to note what these sophomores would do with the information they were given. Forrest wasn’t as affected by the simulation. “I usually don’t listen to music while I study, but when I’m in a loud area and need some focus I like to listen to calm instrumental music.”
Hannah however boldly remarked: “I’ve always known that listening to music doesn’t help me focus but that’s not going to change the way I study because I’m really stubborn.”