09 March 2009
"One of my best friends in college played music incessantly—whether he was studying, writing papers, completing organic chemistry problem sets, or swilling down cheap beer, whatever he did was accompanied by a nonstop 1980s synth-pop beat. This apparently did him no harm, because after graduating at the top of his class, he went on to get a PhD and a law degree, with full scholarships paying for both.
"I could never study with him because the music always broke my concentration. I preferred to study to the gentle background noise of the campus coffee shop. There was one exception to this rule: when I was writing a paper, I would always play Mozart's Piano Concerto #23. Perhaps it was just superstition, but I really believed it helped me concentrate. Even playing a Mozart symphony did not produce the same effect for me—only the piano music worked.
A few years after I graduated from college, the research of Rauscher et al. appeared to back up my superstition—listening to Mozart's piano music actually raised spatial IQ scores."
By Dave Munger
From Denny: Everyone's brain is hard-wired differently. I've always loved Mozart as well as other kinds of music. My own take is that the mental complexity of Mozart - and some other music - combined with how it engages a person emotionally creates a bridge of union in the brain, therefore making it easier to complete tasks well by blocking access to chaotic random interferences in the immediate environment.
For instance, many people find it annoying when their thoughts are interrupted by a sudden staccato burst of conversation coming into their work environment. I always figured it was because it was random and in irregular timing it was distracting to the brain, therefore annoying to the emotions. Music is timed with a regular beat, engaging the emotions so the brain functions better.
"That's my story and I'm sticking to it!" :)
Photo by pfly @ flickr (Scriabin's musical score)