Should You Jam While You Cram? – The science behind music while reading

For most of my life, and increasingly so for the last few years, I have found it very difficult to focus on what I am reading without listening to music. Even as I read other students blogs I had to press play on my previously paused youtube tab to be able to take in what I was reading. I think my problem is that I seem to always have two or more streams of thought running through my head at a time, so while I read one part of my mind is saying the words I see while another totally random train of thought runs through my head making it really hard to take in what I am reading. When I play music, however, I find that second train being consumed by the pulsing beat.                                                                                                                                                           Now I’ve always heard that it’s impossible to truly take in what you are reading when listening to music because our brains cannot multi-task but teachers had always told me listening to Mozart while studying was a good idea. And while the artistic makings of Flume or Chance the Rapper that I listen to are a far cry from classical symphonies, I decided to investigate on how music, and different types of music, impact our reading capabilities.                         According to USA Today, music can have a both positive and negative effect on your reading capabilities. The article reveals that in order to read or study it is optimal to be in a good balanced mood, which music can help bring us to. However when it comes to music with lyrics, our reading abilities can be impaired because we are using the language area of our brain to do two things at once, and the human brain is not good at multi tasking. When doing a school activity like math, however, lyrical music should not be too much of a problem because math uses a part of the brain separate from the lyrics and one shouldn’t severely interfere with the other.leo

2 thoughts on “Should You Jam While You Cram? – The science behind music while reading

  1. Melissa Raquel Fraistat

    I’m glad I came across this post, because the other day I decided to listen to music while doing my work for the first time in years. I have always tried to avoid listening to music when doing work because I always seem to get distracted, but that day I just seemed to be in the mood to listen to music. After a while of listening to music with lyrics, I realized I wasn’t comprehending anything, so I switched to some calming music with no lyrics. The switch helped tremendously, and now I understand why. Here is an article I thought you might enjoy, because it talks about the pros of listening to classical music while studying/working!

  2. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    Hey Lauren,
    Great topic and great blog! Personally, I’ve always been the type of person who needed for it to be completely silent for me to be able to stay focused and study. I loved going to the library in the summer because I would always be one of the only people in the study section that I liked going to. Sadly, the library is a trek and a half for me and I’ve found it more difficult to make time to go there with more classes and activities. My solution, or so I thought, was to go study in the HUB. What I didn’t realize was that it was extremely loud and I found myself getting extremely annoyed when I was trying to read something and a group of people would walk by, screaming their conversation. What I started to do, instead of getting frustrated or taking twenty minutes to get to the library, I listen to classical music in my headphones which is actually proven to help with memorization. According to a study done at USC, ( ), classical music helps you relax, stay more focused, lowers your blood pressure,and puts us in a heightened emotional state, making us more receptive to information. Music with lyrics, on the other hands, distracts us and actually makes it harder to study. But to each their own!

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