Over the years, there have been a number of scientific studies and experiments to see if music has an impact in making an individual concentrate more and perform better. The studies and experiments reveal many interesting patterns that suggest music does have a strong impact on raising our awareness, performance and output.
Music Raises Our Attention Level
One scientific explanation is that every human being has two different attention systems. The first attention system is a conscious system that is based on logic and reasoning. The second attention system is an unconscious system that is more emotional in nature than logical – thereby having a tendency to pick up things that might have escaped our logical attention system.
The simplest example cited to explain these two attention systems is hearing a sound when you are alone at home in the middle of the night. You immediately start to pay attention to the sound even before you start to logically analyse what the sound could have been.
Those who back this theory believe that music does exactly this to a person’s attention system. It causes them to focus on matters with a lot more intent, and as a result the individuals’ attention to detail significantly increases.
Music Can De-Stress or Increase Adrenalin
When you use the term music, it is important to stress that there are different types or genres of music. Each genre not only brings with it a different beat, but quite often a different result. The common belief is that music can get one to de-stress and relax. However, this is true only when you choose the right kind of music.
For example, to try to mediate and relax playing death metal or thrash metal is generally not possible unless you are a freak of nature. On the other hand, listening to the sounds of nature combined with the sounds of a xylophone can soothe many a troubled mind.
On the other hand, if you are looking to hit the gym and lift some heavy weights, playing hard rock or heavy metal is going to work well, as it will get your adrenaline pumping.
The problem with scientific theories with regards to music and our cognitive abilities, is that as soon as one study confirms that music can improve our output, another study will come out questioning the validity of these claims. The best way for any individual to test the theory of music and performance, is to try it for themselves.
Poker Players Rely Heavily On Music
Poker players have tested this theory for years as long sessions at the poker tables require an enormous amount of concentration. Some of the world’s best poker players listen to music while playing and this practice has contributed to them earning millions of dollars over the course of their careers. Daniel Negreanu, who once sat at the top of the All Time Money list, and poker hall of famers Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey, are just some of the players who have used music to their advantage.
However, it must also be stated that this all boils down to one’s personal preference and style of playing. There are some poker players who prefer not to listen to music as they find that it can be distracting at the table. So if you ask the question whether music is good or bad for poker players – the answer would depend solely on each player’s personal preference.
A Melody Can Trigger A Memory
People often feel nostalgic and recall memories when they hear a song from their past. Certain songs can help bring up a very pleasant memory like your first dance or a fun trip. Sometimes, however, a song can be associated with an unpleasant experience or trauma, and trigger a negative reaction.
This is one of the main reasons why it is imperative to be very careful with your playlist, especially if you love music. A wrong tune at the right time can spoil your mood by invoking bad memories, feelings and responses. In this case, music will not enhance your cognitive performance but likely reduce it because you are now dealing with negative emotions.
However, a right tune at the wrong time can immediately set you at ease, de-stress you and invoke positive feelings that everything is going to be all right.
Choose Your Music Wisely
So it is true that music can enhance our cognitive performance provided we understand how lyrics and melodies can influence our mood, emotions and behaviour. Once you understand this, it is easier to understand why different scientific studies and experiments support, as well as disagree with, the theory that music can improve performance and output.
You can improve your performance by being more relaxed and productive when listening to the music that you like. The best way to do this is to take the time to build a playlist of your favorite songs and tunes and then use this as your go-to whenever you need an extra boost.
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