Medical Mysteries of Music

Listening to music “significantly impairs creativity.” Wait–what?

The results of this study will come as a shock to anyone who listens to music at work. I’ve even done presentations to employers and employees where I demonstrate how listening to music–the right music, anyway, carefully chosen for the task–can boost workplace happiness and productivity.

Or maybe not.

Three European universities got together to examine the effect music has on thinking skills. Bottom line is that they found the brain can be distracted by any sort of music.

According to Lancaster University’s Dr Neil McLatchie, the brain has a tendency to focus on the music instead of the task at hand. “We found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions.”

Of note was the way music impairs and disrupts the parts of our brains that deal with verbal skills, problem solving, and overall creativity.

If you want to dive into this whole study, it’s available here.

(Via Digital Music News)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Listening to music “significantly impairs creativity.” Wait–what?

  • I’d be interested in a study that compares the impact of music heard for the first vs music that somebody would know by heart. And maybe one that studies different styles of music. I’m pretty sure the results would be significantly different!


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