Saturday, August 22, 2009


I shared this article with my fellow members at Rock 'n' Roll HR. It was written by Camillo Fracassini and was published in in 2006.

LONG suffering parents of adolescents might not agree, but scientists claim that listening to rock music can boost your brain power.

Researchers at a Scottish university believe that the sound of guitar-based rock such as Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers improves concentration and boosts memory. Contrary to received wisdom, children who listen to loud rock or pop music while swotting for exams are probably
improving their chances of success.

The finding follows claims that listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, can improve performance in cognitive tests. Recent studies suggested that The Mozart Effect can lead to permanent changes in brainpower among young children. The findings have spawned a multi-million-pound industry in classical music CDs designed to boost children’s intelligence.

In the new study, Dr Leigh Riby and George Caldwell, cognitive psychologists at Glasgow Caledonian University, set out to find out whether The Mozart Effect applies to other types of music. The researchers monitored the brain activity of a group of 16 volunteers who were asked to perform a simple memory test while listening to rock and classical music. They were asked to do the same while listening to the
sound of static and again in silence.

The volunteers were played Beethoven’s 2nd symphony and a piece by Steve Vai, the virtuoso rock guitarist. While the classical music improved the concentration and memory of both groups, rock music also had a significant effect on the cognitive performance of the rock fans.

Brain scans revealed that they required far less brainpower to complete the test successfully. “We wanted to investigate whether more contemporary music would have a similar effect and chose rock as an extreme example,” said Riby. “What we found was surprising. While classical music appears to have an effect on everybody, we also found that there is a significant effect on people exposed to their favourite type of

Those played rock music required less mental energy to carry out the task successfully. I would expect to see a similar effect with pop fans played pop music or anyone else exposed to their favourite type of music. The music primes the brain to perform certain tasks more efficiently.

“What we are examining now is whether certain passages or certain instruments have greater effect than others. We will be examining every millisecond of the brain scans to pinpoint what it is about classical and rock music that is having this effect.”

Vai, who has performed alongside Frank Zappa, Ozzy Osbourne and the former Van Halen singer Dave Lee Roth, said he was delighted by the findings, published in the current edition of Consciousness and Cognition, the science journal. “What this test shows is that it’s important not to exclude any music having an emotional impact or educational value,” he said. “What we hear has the potential to change the way we think because it changes our moods.”

While both classical and rock music have been shown to boost brainpower, they have also been used to discomforting effect. Earlier this year Luton council began playing classical music in the town centre to drive away problem youths.

In 1989 the American army played AC/DC at high volume to force the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of hiding.

Previous studies have shown that rock music improved the work rate of people collecting stock market statistics and can have a positive effect on the brain chemistry of depressed teenagers.