Jo-Michael Scheibe is fascinated by how both listening to music and learning how to play a music instrument affects our brains.

1. One-sided phone calls are more distracting than normal conversations.

Apparently phone conversations in which we can only hear one side of the conversation on the most distracting. A survey revealed that up to 82% of people are annoyed when overhearing cellphone conversations. A cognitive psychologist at the University of San Diego, Veronica Galvan, decided to do further research.

She conducted a study in which participants completed word puzzles and half of them overheard one side of a mundane phone conversation in the background. The other half of the volunteers heard the entire conversation while it took place in person in the same room.

Those who heard the one-sided phone conversation found it more distracting than those who heard both sides of the conversation in person. They also remembered more of the conversation demonstrating that it grabbed their attention more, literally taking their focus away from the word puzzle. The unpredictability of a one-sided conversation seems to grab our attention more because we don’t have a context to put it. When we can hear both sides, it gives us more context and thus we are not confused by it and can more easily tune it out.

2. Music helps us exercise.

Just like silence does not help us to be more creative or better drivers, it also is not helpful while exercising. Research on the effects of music while exercising has been conducted for years. In 1911, an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music in comparison to silence. Music can drown out our brain’s cries of fatigue. When our body realizes it’s tired, it sends signals to the brain to stop for a break. However, listening to music competes for our brain’s attention thus overriding those signals of fatigue. This is less powerful for high-intensity exercise.

In addition to pushing us longer and harder, music can also help us use our energy more efficiently. Another study in 2012 revealed that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen than those who cycled in silence.

Recent research has shown that there is a ceiling effect on music at around 145 bpm. Anything higher does not seem to add much motivation. Dubstep tends to be around 140 bpm and drum & bass are usually higher. Take a look at the images below to figure out which music works best for your workout!

Jo-Michael Scheibe

Jo-Michael Scheibe