Music Improves Your Work
All the labs I’ve been in have a radio on. A surveyer once commented on this in a lab, saying in her experience they were usually by a sink. In our lab there is a radio directly outside my office, which is the only place we get reception. All day, every day it plays country western music. Not all the techs - myself included - prefer this genre, and most don’t complain. But does it help? Can music at work improve productivity?
The New York Times reports that melodious sounds help release dopamine in the reward area of the brain. One study showed that workers listening to music completed their tasks sooner and came up with better ideas, because music improved their sense of focus and their mood.
CBS Money Watch reports the same, adding that music makes you feel calmer at work. Listening to music lowers your perception of tension, which is even true for energetic music. Music can also have positive effects on people who suffer from adult ADD, again by increasing the dopamine levels in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with a number of functions, including mediating pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable activities and stimulates one to seek pleasure. But it’s also associated with attention and cognition. Science Daily reports that dopamine also helps with difficult cognitive tasks: “Our key cognitive center, the prefrontal cortex, which we use for abstract thought, rule-based decisions and logical conclusions, is intensively supplied with dopamine.”
Bench work is filled with rules-based decisions and simple math, such as verifying results, troubleshooting quality control, and unit conversions. The above suggests that music not only improves our mood but our ability to do lab work, as well.
Sometime last year I started listening to music while writing, and to my amazement I wrote faster, more clearly, and with more focus. Usually, this involves headphones, Grooveshark, and power pop tunes. Beats me why upbeat, energetic music improves writing, but it does. I can easily imagine it helping at work, too. And who knows? It might keep people awake at meetings.
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