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Does listening to music while you study make you smarter?

02 Dec 13

For the millions of students undertaking university exams, they should consider packing a pair of headphones in their bags.

That's according to music streaming service Spotify, who claims that pupils are more likely to perform well academically if they listen to music while they study.

Spotify research has found that it is important to choose the right music for the topic you’re studying and that it stimulates learning and can enhance concentration.

“With millions of students streaming music on Spotify, it’s great to see the positive effect it could have on their studies," says Angela Watts, VP of Global Communications, Spotify.

Students who listen to classical music with 60-70 beats per minute while they study score on average 12% more in their Maths exams, the equivalent of up to a whole grade. The melody and tone range in classical music, like Beethoven’s Fur Elise, help students to study for longer and retain more information.

The left side of the brain is used to process factual information and solve problems, which are key skills in Science, Humanities and Languages.

Listening to music with 50-80 beats per minute such as We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus and Mirrors by Justin Timberlake has a calming effect on the mind that is conducive to logical thought, allowing the brain to learn and remember new facts.

When studying for subjects like English, Drama or Art, students use the right side of the brain to process original, creative thoughts. Research shows that these students should listen to emotive rock and pop music, like Katy Perry’s Firework and I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) by The Rolling Stones, which produce a heightened state of excitement that is likely to enhance creative performance.

“Music has a positive effect on the mind, and listening to the right type of music can actually improve studying and learning," says Dr Emma Gray, a Clinical Psychologist commissioned by Spotify to investigate the effect music has on studying.

"Music can put you in a better frame of mind to learn – and indeed, students who listen to music can actually do better than those who don’t.

"For logical subjects, like Maths, music should calm the mind and help concentration, whereas for creative subjects, the music should reflect the emotion that the student is trying to express.”

Does listening to music while you study make you smarter? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below

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