QotW - 14.08.10 - Why can't I concentrate if I listen to music?

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Offline thedoc

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Right now, I'm listening to music, but that's OK because I finished work hours ago. I find that I can't work with music playing as all my attention is on the music and it distracts me.

On the other hand, I have friends who can't work unless they have music, at loud volume, blasting through their skulls via their head phones. So why should there be such a difference?

I should point out, I'm over 50, the people with the phones are younger, so is it merely age?

Asked by Neil S. Briscoe

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[chapter podcast=1000778 track=14.08.12/Naked_Scientists_Show_14.08.10_1002608.mp3]  ...or Listen to the Answer[/chapter] or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 18/08/2014 16:30:02 by _system »


Offline Sheppie

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I don't think it's age but more individually your focusing skills. Some people can direct their attention
to two or three different activities like they can watch tv, talk with someone and watch their kid at
the same time while others can just focus on one thing. My Mom is example of the latter. She can
just do one thing a time while my Dad can easily work listening to music. Actually I work with my headphones
and favorite music on too. Don't worry about that :)


Offline annie123

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I find it very distracting to have a music background to so many things one hears in the media - including podcasts. People giving lectures in a school or university setting don't have a music background all the time - and yet even on serious programmes where facts are being given or announcements being made some annoying noise in the background seems to be there. Even on The NS podcasts there has been music while someone talks about latest discoveries etc. which makes it difficult to focus on the material especially if it is technical or has new vocabulary or describes complex processes. I have written to the NS about this before. Surely music is largely processed or responded to by a different area of the brain than that analyzing verbal messages  and this is one reason why the music is distracting.Sometimes I think people don't really 'listen' to the music or give full attention to any tasks where more than one is being 'attended 'to. Depends on the kind of music/content of other tasks etc. too I suppose.



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« Reply #3 on: 14/11/2014 01:32:01 »
I need quiet and calming music, nothing crazy or too lyrical. At work I listen to ambient or jazz on a really low volume. I'm still experimenting, but I think overall for me it is soft/slow/low music or no music at all. I can't listen with headphones, it breaks me entirely.


Brian Farley

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« Reply #4 on: 12/01/2015 22:54:04 »
As an amateur musician, I am always analysing music and trying to work out the chord progressions. So background music that I like grabs my attention so much, that I stop to listen to it. But if I hate the music, I am driven mad and have to get away. And why do so many people have headphones on when jogging? I like to hear the outside world and talk to people I meet - less of a pleasure these days.