Studying the Effect of Music on Learning Abilities

April 4, 2011
School of Medicine, Kochi

Can music make a difference in the learning abilities of students?

studentsYes, it can! Music has positive learning outcomes. This was the finding of a study recently conducted by faculty and students of the Department of Community Medicine at the Amrita School of Medicine.

A paper titled, Effect of music on comprehension and recall among medical students in Kerala, based on this study was published in the National Medical Journal of India.

“With this study, the traditional notion that students learn best in a completely quiet environment is being challenged,” stated Dr. Aswathy S., Professor at the Department of Community Medicine.

Dr. Aswathy S. and her colleague, Ms. Beteena Kurian co-authored the paper with six MBBS interns viz Drs. Adarsh, Archana Rajendran Nair, Anjana A. S., Aparna Prathap, Amrita Anil Kumar and Anju Sarah Thomas.

“We attempted to study the effect of music on comprehension and recall, and the effect of the type of music on learning,” stated the interns.


For the study, sixty medical students were randomly selected. They were given articles of about 300 words to read in two and a half minutes. After reading, they had to answer questionnaires based on the material read, within two minutes.

The experiment was repeated with students listening to eastern music, then western music and then finally, no music at all.

The study noted that comprehension and recall among students was quite high when students read the articles and answered the questions, while listening to music.

learning“This is probably because of the many ways in which music acts; by relaxing the mind and lowering stress levels, triggering the release of endorphins, increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain, inspiring emotions, thus creating a passage to long-term memory,” explained Dr. Aswathy.

The study found that eighty-five percent of the respondents did better with music. The effect of eastern and western music were also studied. Fifty-seven percent did their best with eastern music and only twenty percent with western music.

“In this competitive world, harnessing the power of music can provide an extra edge and make a crucial difference in helping enhancing the learning outcomes of students,” concluded the authors.

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