Our brain is not designed to maintain concentration all day. No matter the amount of training or sheer will we put into it, it’s physiological. Brain concentration is like pumping a muscle; it uses a high amount of resources (particularly glucose) that will quickly run out, even when the task is considered “basic” such as “perception”. Studies on mental attention have shown that our capacity to remain concentrated considerably decreases over time (30 % less after 25 minutes and 50% less after 50 minutes). The high concentration spans defined by brain induced gamma waves (40-50 Hz) only last about 12 minutes and can use up to 40% of our metabolic energy.
Considering these factors, maintaining a high level of comfort and performance seems difficult to upkeep, especially when working in an environment exposed to noise and disturbances (train, shared office, open spaces…). Open-spaces… a place where so much happens… There’s always a source of distraction, perhaps a noisy work buddy or a colleague that quickly gets annoyed over the phone, maybe even that guy who always seems to be hammering his keyboard instead of typing, let alone that other coworker that can’t sit still and storms around the room all the time..! Whatever the source, there’s always noise and movement!
One of the solutions to regain control over your mind’s focus is listening to music, but not just any music! This is a question we’re often asked.
Pick music tracks with no lyrics. They are far more efficient to help concentrate. This has been demonstrated by Perham and Currie* who performed a study on students who had to memorize and learn in different conditions (with or without music, with or without lyrics). The study showed that learning without music or with « lyric-free » music is more efficient than with music that has lyrics. The human voice is a high source of distraction to our brain and makes full concentration impossible.
To isolate yourself into a better work environment we advise listening to lyric-free music. This doesn’t mean you have to go for classical music. There are many styles of music that have no voices, like movie scores or video game music specifically designed to allow players to remain in a concentration bubble as long as possible (unfortunately for parents…).
You could also listen to sounds of nature of some of the soundtracks developed or selected by My Mental Energy Pro.
When we listen to music our brain first of all activates the auditory perception areas. These areas are connected to the motor cortex areas which explain why rhythmic music with strong pulses triggers an urge to stamp your feet in the rhythm. The most “expressive” people of us all might even go into a creative choreography that may amaze… or intrigue us at the very least! The memory areas of the brain will also be stimulated. This is what allows us to remember songs we’ve already heard before and determine whether we like them or not, or even hum the tune as soon as we hear the very first notes!
As well as helping us concentrate, music can positively stimulate our brain as shown by Hervé Platel**, neuropsychology professor at the University of Caen Normandie. His research shows that listening to music while working stimulates memory and reduces the sensation of weariness over time. Indeed, listening to music that we like stimulates the reward circuits of our brain. This effect produces dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives the sensation of wellbeing. In a work environment, this reduces stress and anxiety and boosts the ability to focus by increasing the level of awakening.
Overall however, the power of music upon the level of concentration is very subjective. A particular tune will work perfectly for one person and not for another. It’s down to you to give it a go and judge by yourself!
This is why the My Mental Energy Pro app offers a wide range of regularly updated concentration sounds and music for you to pick from.
These sounds and tunes will help you cut off the surrounding noise and create that concentration bubble you need to get work done. They all last 25 minutes which is the optimal concentration span for your brain in a work environment.