Research shows that a positive mood increases the scope of visual attention, which can lead to an increase in distraction. Using event-related potentials (ERP), researchers determined whether positive mood influenced by music could result in selective attention in the auditory domain.

Studies indicate that effective and cognitive processes are closely integrated into the brain. It’s been found that affective states can actually influence cognitive processes. Attention and focus are highly dependent on the emotional state of a person, as a positive mood can increase the attention span of a person and a negative mood can reduce it. However, a positive emotional state can also be counterproductive as it can result in a higher capacity for distraction. Thus, it can be concluded that a negative mood as a result of a problem results in a narrow, detail-oriented focus. A positive mood, on the other hand, indicates the absence of a problem and a lower span in focus as a result.

A study found that pleasant music can improve the attention and performance of a person. Based on this information, an experiment proved that different moods of music could affect a person’s cognitive processes differently. By listening to happy songs, a person’s scope for auditory attention can increase, along with the error rate. It also allows for more information to be processed by the brain by reducing selectivity in taking new information. Sad songs may be more helpful temporarily, but listening to them repeatedly may actually be counterproductive due to the person constantly recalling negative memories.

One way to avoid the negative effects of happy music would be to listen to tracks without lyrics. It has been observed that listening to lyrical songs may prove as a distraction, but leitmotifs and instrumentals can actually be quite helpful. Thus, listening to the soundtracks and background scores of movies can increase the productivity and performance of a person.

It has been proved that listening to the sound of rain can also boost one’s productivity. However, all of these methods may impact people differently. It’s been observed that extroverts are more likely to be benefited by the effects of sound and music. They have a reduced amount of focus than introverts in general, but with the right background music, their auditory responses may actually give them a boost in their cognitive processes.

Introverts, on the other hand, are already more highly focused than extroverts to begin with, and auditory stimuli actually impact their scope for attention negatively. This is why they prefer peace and quiet in their work environments.

The subject of music increasing the focus of a person isn’t a simple topic and is still being researched. There are multiple factors that come into play for different people, so what may be helpful for one person may be disadvantageous for another.

If you’re an extrovert, you may actually find music a helpful tool while working, but if you’re an introvert, this can actually be a hindrance. Therefore, there’s no correct answer to how music can affect the performance of everyone.

Thus, the best way to figure out what works best for you is to try it out for yourself. By experimenting, you can determine what style of music and mood works best for you, or you can settle for peace and quiet.

–Arjun Chauhan