Can Bach in the background help academic performance?

Posted on: January 5, 2012

“New research from France finds students learned more when a videotaped lecture was underscored with classical music,” writes Tom Jacobs on Monday (1/2) at Miller-McCune.com. “In the journal Learning and Individual Differences, a research team led by Fabrice Dosseville of the Universite de Caen Basse-Normandie describes an experiment featuring 249 university students.… For one group, the lecture was accompanied by a series of familiar classical pieces, including excerpts from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto. The other group heard the lecture with no background music. Within 15 minutes of hearing the lecture, all the students took a multiple-choice quiz featuring questions based on the lecture material. The results: the students who heard the music-enhanced lecture scored significantly higher on the quiz than those who heard the music-free version. The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear. Recent research suggests emotion plays an important role in learning. Perhaps, like the soundtrack to a movie, the background music put the students in a heightened emotional state, making them more receptive to the information being presented. However, the researchers took the students’ emotional pulse before and after the lecture, and they report any boost in excitement or inspiration cannot fully explain the difference in test scores.”

Posted January 5, 2012