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Spring Concerto Music Can Improve Cognitive Abilities, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 19, 2013 12:22 PM EDT

Concerto music might have just gotten more popular for students cramming for last minute exams and papers. According to a study done by researchers from the Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, uplifting concerto music could help improve cognitive abilities. The researchers found that people who listened to the spring concerto performed better on tasks, and had a better attention span and memory.  The findings in this study might prompt people to consider adding new tactics, particularly music tracks, to their study routine.

The head researcher, psychologist Dr. Leigh Riby and his colleagues observed the performance level of 14 participants who were asked to complete a task requiring concentration. The participants had to push the space bar only when they saw a green square out of the many different shapes and colors presented on the screen. The participants performed this task in silence, while listening to spring concerto uplifting music and slow somber autumn concerto music. Both of the concerto music was written in the major key. The researchers observed the brain activity measured through the EEG brain-imaging machine.

Riby found that the participants performed the fastest with the response time of 393.8 milliseconds while listening to the uplifting music. The response time without the influence of any music was 408.1 milliseconds and that number increased to 413.3 milliseconds when the participants listened to the somber music.

"The Spring movement enhanced overall activity within the brain but had an exaggerated effect on the area of the brain that's important for emotional processing. It seemed to give rise to particular imagery in the brain and evoke positive, contented feelings which translated into higher levels of cognitive functioning," he concluded. "The current study provides evidence that there is an indirect effect of music on cognition that is created by mood, alertness and emotion. This experiment shows that cognitive capacity is enhanced when pleasant and arousing stimuli are introduced."

The findings from this study suggest that uplifting music might be beneficial in certain therapy treatments since it might be able to improve mood and influence good behaviors.

The study was published in Experimental Psychology.

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