When it comes to concentrating on a specific task, a British study has found that men made significantly more mistakes when listening to rock music than Mozart. However, women's performances were unaffected by the type of music they listened to.
Three hundred and fifty-two visitors to an annual science festival took part in an experiment led by researchers at the U.K.'s Imperial College London and Royal College of Music, studying the effects of music on individual performances.
The scientists asked participants to play the board game "Operation," which involves removing body parts from a virtual patient with tweezers without touching the sides of the body.
Participants were also asked to wear headphones, playing either "Andante" from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC or the sound of an operating theatre. The researchers then timed how long it took participants to remove three body parts and noted their mistakes.
According to the results, men who listened to "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC were slower and made more mistakes than those who listened to Mozart or the operating theatre sounds (36 mistakes on average, compared with 28).
The study also revealed that none of the three tracks caused women to make more mistakes or take longer in performing the task.
Investigating music and performance
The researchers suggest that rock music could cause more auditory stress in men, a state brought about by loud or discordant music.
The scientists also asked participants about their tastes in music. Mozart listeners who expressed high levels of appreciation for the Sonata were found to make fewer mistakes.
The study is part of wider research being carried out by the team to explore how music affects the performance of teams working in various fields, from public speaking to competing in Olympic events.
Previous studies reveal that when music is played in operating theatres, Jamaican music and hip hop increase operating speed and manipulation of surgical instruments. However, one in four anesthetists said that music reduced their vigilance.