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Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Classical music aids concentration, study reveals

11:35, 13th December 2016

New research carried out by the Centre for Performance Science, a collaboration between Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, suggests that classical music helps men to concentrate on tasks.

Researchers asked 352 visitors at the Imperial Festival to play the game Operation. They gave the volunteers headphones playing one of three tracks: the Andante from Mozart’s sonata for two pianos, ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, or the sound of an operating theatre, then timed how long it took the participants to remove three body parts and tracked their mistakes.

The results revealed that men were slower and made more mistakes when they listened to AC/DC, compared to those who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre.

Music was found to have no effect on women’s performance, and they generally performed better than men. None of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed; women generally took longer to remove the body parts, but made fewer mistakes.

The researchers suggested that rock music caused more auditory stress in men, but were unsure why.

The scientists also asked people about their musical tastes, and found that Mozart only reduced the number of mistakes if the volunteers reported high levels of appreciation for the movement.

Dr Daisy Fancourt, lead author of the research, said: ‘Although this study is clearly tongue-in-cheek, and was all performed in our spare time, it is part of our wider research into the effect of music on performance.’

The research is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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