Impact of music on reaction time, attention, short term memory and verbal fluency: A gender-based study
Background: Music is beneficial for adults, it enhances psychological comfort, self-confidence, self-esteem, and lowers the symptoms of anxiety, pain and depression, relieving stress by improving life quality and thus providing satisfaction. It holds the capacity to initiate a multitude of cognitive processes in the brain. We aim to evaluate and compare the effects of music on reaction time, attention, working capacity of short-term memory and verbal fluency of male and female subjects.
Methodology: An observational study was conducted on a sample of 300 subjects either males or females between the age groups of 19 to 30 years, affiliated with different universities and institutes. After inclusion, these subjects were divided into two groups, standard and experimental group with 150 subjects in each group. Ruler & Drop method test and Stroop test with or without music were used to test the reaction time (RT) and attention, respectively. Whereas, working capacity of short-term memory was tested using the George A. Miller rule of memory. And verbal fluency was evaluated using semantic verbal fluency (SVF) and phonological verbal fluency (PVF) tests. The data was analyzed using SPSS Version 22.
Results: The comparative mean values between the groups for RT, attention, short-term memory and verbal fluency scores were greater among the subjects in the experimental group as the tests were performed in association with musical interference. Mean reaction time for both visual and tactile cues were significantly increased in the experimental group i.e. 0.151±0.034 (males) and 0.124 ±0.050 (females) for tactile cues and 0.150 ±0.042 (males) and 0.152 ±0.033 (females). Moreover, Stroop interference also increased in both genders while short-term memory score declined from high to average and verbal fluency was also compromised due to musical interference.
Conclusion: It is concluded from the study results that music holds both positive and negative effects on brain activity. It imparts positive effect on both RT and attention but in case of the working capacity of short-term memory and verbal fluency, the effects are negative.
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