Everybody’s prime study environment is different.
Some thrive in quiet libraries without an interesting sound, smell or sight around to distract from the task at hand. Others love being amongst the buzz of a busy cafe so they can really get in the zone.
The soundtrack of your study session is an important decision. For many, music can calm the nerves, help focus and increase motivation by improving their mood. It can affect your ability to memorise, problem solve and predict trends.
In one study, primary school students were shown to perform better at certain tasks than when there was no music. But not all genres are equal. Scientists advise that music listened to while studying should have no lyrics and be played at moderate volume. So, what is the best genre for you?
Many studies have now shown a link between classical music and improvements in cognitive ability.
Famously referred to as “the Mozart effect”, many say that listening to Mozart will actually make you smarter. While this isn’t exactly true, at least one study has shown that listening to Mozart’s pieces can improve one’s spatial reasoning for 10 to 15 minutes.
An often-cited study from Stanford University found that the brain’s ability to pay attention improved markedly after participants listened to the music of an obscure 18th century composer. Research from the Duke Cancer Institute has shown that listening to classical music can also reduce pain and anxiety.
As another potentially relaxing genre that lacks lyrics, jazz is another choice for those less keen on Mozart or Beethoven.
According to William R. Klemm, a senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, listening to jazz is good for studying because of its stress-reducing capabilities. Stress, he explains, “is the arch-enemy of memory ability.”
Jazz has also been linked to boosting creativity. You’ll find plenty of study-friendly jazz playlists on YouTube.
World music is an alternative option.
According to counselling advice offered by the University of Nevada, Reno, “Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud.”
While not technically music, listening to white or other background noise like waves or nature sounds is a preferable solution for many who are distracted by any kind of music but also can’t handle background noise.
Researchers from University College London found in 2010 that introverts’ ability to perform tasks like reading comprehension, mental arithmetic and prose recall were hindered by ambient background music or office noise.
So if that’s you, probably best to let the waves soothe you into study.