Fri Dec 04 2020

A Dive Into Neuromusicology - Or How Music Effects The Brain

How music can transform productivity 

Silence. An untitled google doc page. Two empty tea-stained mugs and an even emptier white wall. A wondering dust particle in the sunlight. Working from home can have its good days and bad days, and the current state of my desk would imply that it was the latter. 

After doing some research, it appeared that I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to be productive at home. It also appeared that a main solution was music, and it was quite heavily backed by science. So, I scrolled through Spotify and started playing a very depressing, piano-heavy playlist called ‘music for concentration’, which made my situation seem a lot more dramatic sounding than it was. But it worked. The words started flowing. If it was the placebo effect or merely the coffee kicking in I don’t know, but I found the vast research behind sound and productivity interesting. So that’s what this article is about.

Music can affect emotions by decreasing stress, anxiety, depression and even confusion. That will not be a surprise to most people but is still important to remember. Neuromusicology is the study of how music affects the brain, which is slightly more complex and where it starts to get interesting. It turns out the brain areas affected by music varies from person to person depending on personal experiences with music, but there are patterns that can discern what types of music are more helpful than others. 

For example, I find songs with lyrics distracting, particularly when writing or editing, and this seems to be common with others too. Although it can help some people be more efficient when carrying out mundane tasks, by distracting them from boredom. There are various other studies which show how music is a valuable tool according to an article from like a 1994 study showing that the accuracy and efficiency of surgeons improved when listening to music and a 2005 Psychology of Music study which revealed that music helped software developers produce better work. 

There is also other research which shows that ambient noise is the best replacement for silence, like a hoover or light indistinguishable conversation especially without the background noise of an office when working at home. Continuous, moderate (70 decibels), and natural noise is the best ambient background sound to help creativity, mood and productivity. 

Music therapy can also be used to change your mood if you’re feeling particularly stuck. A technique called the ‘iso principle’, where the first tracks match your mood and following songs change gradually to encourage productivity instead of forcing it from the beginning, is apparently very effective. ‘Power songs’, tracks that are typically based around 121bpm with a positive sound, are proven to be the best for productivity and can be  strategically placed in a playlist to give you an extra boost. 

So next time you hit a mental block and find yourself drowning in unproductivity, music might just raise you to the surface and get you back on track. 

Have you heard? 

Buy now, pay later on the rise

Firms that allow customers to pay for items in interest free instalments, with fees shifting onto businesses looking to expand their customer base, are benefiting from the increase in online shopping. Europe will become a $347 billion market for pay-later programmes by 2025 with firms like Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm leading the market.

Three pints of cider and three carvery dinners please

Anyone remember that Inbetweeners episode? Well, with the new tier system put in place for England those in tier 2 can only order alcohol with a substantial meal; it’s safe to say they’ll be a lot of eating challenges this christmas. Pub owners are understandably concerned about the consequences this will have for an already suffering hospitality industry, particularly when there seems to be many inconsistencies with policies along with the rhetoric of ‘saving Christmas’. The north of England has been hit particularly hard with tier 3 restrictions, with London missing the harshest restrictions again. 

TT’s Top Story

Afresh Technology, a supply chain company that uses AI to reduce waste, increase freshness and improve efficiency in food delivery, are now valued at $100m following their $13m funding round. They have also announced that their funding will be used to expand their product across supply chain, store operations, and merchandising for all food categories.

App of the Week

Klarna is a popular shopping app right now that allows the user to manage and personalise their shopping preferences, with the ability to ‘snooze’ payments and access the latest deals. Particularly useful for Black Friday and Christmas shopping. 

Word of the week



To describe or mark the edge of something/ to outline something in detail

The employer delineated the application process online so no one would get confused’