A randomised trial investigating the effects of different types of music on cognitive function and physiological parameters in healthy individuals.
Background Exposure to music has been associated with positive effects on mood and subjective wellbeing. The use of music therapy has been shown to have an impact on mood and cognition in patients with dementia. However, the effects of music on cognitive function in the healthy population remain unclear, including the impact of musical genres and individual preferences for these genres. Aim The aim of this study was to assess the effects of different types of music on cognitive function and physiological parameters in the healthy adult population. Design Participants were healthy adults (aged 16 –65 years) with no evidence of cognitive decline. A total of 20 participants were included in the study. A randomised, cross-over design was used to evaluate the effect of silence, preferred music and non-preferred music exposure on cognitive testing. Three separate visits were completed for each participant, with pre- and post-test blood pressure evaluated as well as cognitive performance using Corsi and Stroop tests. All tests were performed in a quiet room at the university campus, at a time convenient to the participants. Results The results showed that there were no differences in physiological parameters (systolic and diastolic blood pressure) or in the performance of the Corsi task based on participant exposure to no music, preferred music or non-preferred music. A higher rate of errors was seen in the Stroop task after listening to preferred music versus no music (P=0.042), while time to complete the task was lower after listening to either preferred or non-preferred music versus no music (P<0.001). Conclusion The findings of this study do no support the hypotheses of the research and should be interpreted with caution due to the contradictory findings to other published studies. Future studies should focus on replicating the present study and refining the protocol employed. Key words: Music, cognitive function, physiological, healthy, randomised