The Mozart effect was trending there for a while – but does music actually help you remember information?

Science says: The jury is still out.

Music is so multifactorial in terms of styles and personalities, but a few studies have at least revealed a few trends.

The biggest concern is noticing if your music is creating split attention. If you’re paying more attention to the tune, (which is more likely with lyrics and higher volumes) then you may be in trouble.

It has been shown to help with repetitive tasks and easier thinking. When you’re running through flashcards, arranging your study materials, or just lightly reviewing, it can help boost mood and motivation. It can also be great for creative or information generating type tasks. So, if you’re trying to recall a case/disease or write something with the material, having some beats in the background may boost your lateral thinking skills.

Music does reduce stress and anxiety when you are studying. Cortisol, which is released when we are anxious, decreases our ability to remember. If you tend to be a more anxious studier or you are just having a bad day, putting on some background music might help.

Once the material gets harder, you’re doing some deep reading or taking an upper level B&B exam, it may become more of a distraction. Particularly music with lyrics has been shown to decrease phonological memory. It’s important to remember that you’ll be taking the exam in silence, so it may be a good idea to practice the same way at least a few times.

Music is a fantastic way to pump yourself up before you study or during a break. That’s why we asked for the B&B crew to tell us their favorite pump-up songs. Bonus points for getting some dance steps in – moving around is also a great study break and learning tool.

At the end of the day it really depends on what works best for you! We’d love to hear your favorite songs or even send us your pump-up dance!!


Written by Dr. Kerri Lyons

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