Psychologists find that music distracts students’ studying | by MADALYNE BIRD
The silence in the room is deafening. She can fix that. Ã‚Â Her finger reaches out and touches the play button on her iHome , music filling the air.
‘Lilly, turn it off or I’ll tell mom!’Â her younger sister Lucy screams.
‘Lucy, find me a pair of headphones in this house and then I’ll use them, otherwise I’m not turning it off,’Â junior Lilly Kraus replies.
The argument continues as Lilly slowly turns the music up and goes back to her homework, drowning out her sister’s voice in the room the two share.
‘[Listening to music while doing homework] helps me focus,’Â Kraus said. ‘I always finish faster that way and it keeps me from getting distracted by other things.’Â
Lucy, however is unable to concentrate with Lilly’s music on.
Junior Maddie Lundgren also listens to music while doing homework and studying. However, Lundgren has to listen to certain music while doing certain subjects.
‘When I’m doing [American literature] or history that requires more thought, I’ll listen to something softer,’Â Lundgren said. ‘But if I’m doing a worksheet, then I can listen to something that has a beat.’Â
Dr. William Sturgill, psychology professor at Rockhurst University, does not believe people can truly retain information when there are Ã‚Â distractions present such as music. He also says people only have a certain amount of attention capacity, meaning it takes a lot energy for the mind to concentrate, even without outside distractions.
‘Humans can multi-task well only under certain conditions, but usually are poor at it,’Â Sturgill said. ‘Humans are limited capacity information processors…we only have so much attention capacity to devote to ongoing tasks.’Â
According to Sturgill, each task a person engages in Ã‚Â requires a certain amount of concentration. Tasks that are not well-practiced require even more attention than practiced tasks, such as brushing your teeth.
‘Studying requires attention and the better you attend to what you’re doing, the better the result of your studying,’Â Sturgill said. ‘If the music is something you like to sing along with, then it interferes with studying.’Â
A 2006 study by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) stated that although multi-tasking does not affect overall learning, it does affect how you apply what you learn.
‘In multitask situations… even if distraction does not decrease the overall level of learning, it can result in the acquisition of knowledge that can be applied less flexibly in new situations,’Â says PNAS.
Kraus, however, said Ã‚Â she likes the escape that listening to music provides.
‘It creates an atmosphere when I’m listening to music or have headphones in, that blocks other things out,’Â Kraus said. ‘I actually concentrate on what I’m trying to do.’Â
Though Sturgill believes music is mostly distracting, he states that some music can be beneficial to studying.
‘If the music is played to eliminate random background noise, then music can benefit studying because it ‘Ëœmasks’ -covers up- noise that would attract attention,’Â Sturgill said. ‘So play some Beethoven piano concertos in the background at a nice volume while you study. It creates an auditory environment that covers like a blanket, Ã‚Â and then you can have lots of attention available for study.’Â