Music and the brain - Deepstash

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The Science Backed Ways Music Affects Your Brain and Productivity

Music and the brain

Music has a real impact on human emotions and perception. Music activates different areas of the brain in different people, but there are general brain and mood patterns revealed by music research.

For the most part, research suggests that listening to music can improve your efficiency, creativity and happiness in terms of work-related tasks. 

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Music and work
With so much of our time being spent at work, and so much of our work being done at computers, music has become inseparable from our day-to-day tasks — a way to “optimize the boring” while looking at screens.
Music and repetitive tasks

When a task is clearly defined and repetitive in nature, music makes it more enjoyable.

It isn’t the music itself, but rather the improved mood your favorite music brings that will give a boost in productivity.

Ambient noise

Moderate noise level can get creative juices flowing, but the line is easily crossed; loud noises made it incredibly difficult to concentrate. 

Bellowing basses and screeching synths will do you more harm than good when engaging in deep work.

Music for better productivity and focus
Music for better productivity and focus
  • Classical music: Songs with no lyrics are often considered the finest form of the craft, always a popular choice.
  • Electronic music is repetitive, but in a good way.
  • Video-game music: Game composers know that the ideal music enhances the experience while not distracting the player.
  • Anything soft enough to not divert attention and focus is a possibility for your potential playlist ;
  • White noise or nature sounds.
Familiar songs are best for focus

It’s best to listen to music you are familiar with if you need intense focus for a project

New music is surprising; since you don’t know what to expect, you are inclined to listen closely to see what comes next.

Lyrics can be distracting

For activities that don’t require concentration, music with lyrics has some benefits. But with immersive tasks, lyrics are especially destructive to our focus.

Trying to engage in language-related tasks ( e.g. writing ) while listening to lyrics would be akin to holding a conversation while another person talks over you… while also strumming a guitar.

Happy/sad music

Our brains respond differently to happy or sad music.

One study revealed that participants interpreted a neutral expression as happy or sad to match the tone of the music they heard. 

Ambient noise can improve creativity

A moderate noise level is ideal to improve our creativity. It increases the processing difficulty which stimulates abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. 
High noise levels impair our creative thinking because we feel overwhelmed and struggle to process information properly.

Music and personality

Different genres correspond to our personality. For instance:

  • Blues and Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease