This feature was written by Freelance Journalist Georgina Lawton… 

Are you one of those people to whom a silent library seems like the worst working environment in the world? I know I am – I actually need a bit of a buzz around me in order to concentrate. In fact, when it comes to zoning out, a lot of the time I really enjoy plugging in my music and turning it up nice and loud. But of course that doesn’t work all the time; depending on the task that I’m doing, blasting out lyric-heavy tunes can actually be super distracting at times (rap is the worst!). I also know a lot of people who despise having a soundtrack on in the background whilst studying, working or completing household tasks.

Luckily I’ve uncovered some interesting science behind the way our brains behave whilst listening to music, and interestingly,  the type of stuff you play, the kind of person you are and the type of work you’re doing can all make a difference to how your psyche responds. Interested in how you can become even more productive? Of course you are – here are 6 ways listening to music can affect your brain..

1. Listening To Music Can Keep You Calm

In a huge 2013 review of over 400 studies, scientists from Canada found that whacking on a soundtrack before a nerve-wracking event (like a hospital operation, which was analysed) can reduce the levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol in the brain. The scientists concluded that music can be medicinal and that in some cases, it could be more effective than taking anti-anxiety drugs.

2. Classical Music Helps Concentration

Some science argues that listening to new music, songs with a lot going on, or tunes that contain a lot of lyrics can be distracting (I’d agree), especially if you’re trying to solve problems or write an article. However, studies show that classical music is the one size fits all approach to increasing concentration levels –  in particular Baroque classical music, in case you wanted to make a new playlist.

3. Tuning In Can Boost In Creativity

Dr. Teresa Lesiuk,  told the NY Times that plugging in whilst working can make you more productive and creative. She said her research proved that there is a “positive mood change and enhanced perception on design while working” to music – so that’s a double win.

4. Match Your Music With Your Personality

In order to be at your most productive, the app Focus@Will claims there’s research which suggests there’s music that suits your personality type. Their app asks you a few questions before matching you with unfamiliar tunes that put your brain into a “flow state”, which apparently makes you “hyper-focused and exponentially more productive.” If you sign up, you get access to a personal music channel that they say has been proven to optimise your productivity by 4x your usual rate. Worth a try, but I don’t think it’s free…

5. Get Funky

Research by scientist Maria Witek suggested that our brain’s concentration levels perform best when matched with music that makes us want to dance. But house and techno won’t help you out, apparently, we need funk and pop to concentrate best at work Prince anyone?

6. Pick Music That Reflects Your Ideas

It’s best to match music to your tasks and skill-set according to research conducted by Dr. Emma Gray for Spotify. She found that creative people who may be studying English, Drama or Art work best when tuning into mainstream pop, house and rock like Katy Perry and Macklemore, because upbeat inspirational tracks get us excited and motivated. And if you need to think logically and take in new information, Gray recommends picking songs that have a calming effect on the mind to aid concentration – she suggests Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors or Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop!

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