Many people seem to listen to music or even have the television on when they’re studying.
If you do too, then you’re damaging your ability to remember that information, says a new study.
The study by a research team at Louisiana State University (LSU) has shown as much as a 20-30% drop in memory ability when accompanied by noise.
Professor Emily Elliott, an expert in working memory, conducted a series of experiments to see how sounds might affect people’s ability to remember. Professor Elliott tested a variety of subjects (both adults and children) by having them learn something while creating unrelated noises in the background.
The Memory Study
The subjects sat in front of a screen and wore headphones while a series of words were shown for them to remember…
While the headphones played different words to those on the screen.
This distraction meant that adults saw an average 10% reduction in their ability to remember the words when asked, while children showed a 20-30% drop in performance.
Now obviously, it’s not much surprise to learn that children are easily distracted. But the extent to which they, and indeed the adults can be distracted is considerable and could impact your life in lots of ways…
What Does This Mean for You?
You have a big presentation to do. You decide that you’ll learn it more effectively if you’re relaxed (a correct assumption). So, you decide to go somewhere that you’ll feel relaxed, like the local Starbucks (big mistake). You start learning your notes, but when it comes to doing the presentation, it still seems fuzzy.
Chances are that if you’d learned it in a quiet environment, you’d have been more successful and remembered more.
So, as relaxing as a coffee shop or bar might be, is it really worth screwing up a presentation or exam?
What Does This Mean for Parents?
If you’re a parent, you might want to consider how noises might be affecting your child’s learning.
If you have younger children, trying to teach them something in a noisy environment isn’t going to work nearly as well as a place where you can limit environmental noise.
Ideally, teach them one on one where you can help them focus in a calm, quiet environment.
For those with older children or teenagers, you might want to encourage them to turn off their music while they’re revising for that exam. And now you have proof that you’re right!
Thanks Professor Elliott!
To find out more about this study, check out this article by Juliann Allen on The LSU Daily Reveille website.
Category: Memory News