Is Music less Distracting when you’re Young?

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For certain people, it’s way too distracting to listen to music while you study. However, according to a recent study, the younger generation is more likely to concentrate better with music than the older generations.

NY Magazine summarized a study that was done in which 103 healthy participants, half between 18 and 30 and half between 60 and 75, had to memorize name-and-face pairs while listening to music. There were different kinds of music too: jazz, electronica, classical, and blues, all without lyrics.

NY Magazine reported that “Overall, both young and old participants rated the presence of music as distracting. Only among the older ones, however, was there also an attendant dip in their performance on the task among those in the music group (older people also performed poorer on the task than young ones overall, which the researchers expected).”

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This may be because the younger generation is more involved with iPods and other electronic devices. Also, older people are less likely to be able to filter out distracting background sounds.

NY Magazine mentions another source that says that:

“Previous research has shown that music exposure can impair a wide variety of cognitive and behavioural performance… . a significant reduction in source memory was observed following music exposure, a reduction that was more pronounced for older adults than for younger adults. This pattern was significantly correlated with performance on an executive binding task. The exposure to music appeared to interfere with binding in working memory, worsening source recall.”

This is pretty much saying that older people’s memory doesn’t work as well when music is playing in the background because, according to previous studies, music can cause weakness in their minds and behaviors. It is hard to remember things when there’s noise in the background distracting your thoughts.

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I think this study is believable because I’ve actually experienced it. My younger sister is 16 years old and she can study and read while listening to music. I, on the other hand, need complete silence or I’ll be more focused on the music and singing along than what I’m reading or studying.

I don’t think I could ever focus with music on, even as a kid. I zone into the music, where it seems like nothing else is going on.

Everyone’s different, though. Can you focus on other tasks with music on? Could you focus, when you were younger? Do you think being in the younger generation leads to a higher concentration level with music on?

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