People’s everyday pleasures like listening to music may improve cognitive performance: Study

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) People’s everyday pleasures, such as listening to music and drinking coffee, can impact a person’s brain activity in ways that improve cognitive performance, including tasks requiring concentration and memory, a new study has shown.

This is the finding of a new US-based NYU Tandon School of Engineering study involving MINDWATCH, a revolutionary brain-monitoring technology.

MINDWATCH is an algorithm that analyses a person’s brain activity from data collected via any wearable device that can monitor electrodermal activity (EDA).

This activity reflects changes in electrical conductance triggered by emotional stress, linked to sweat responses.

In this study, subjects wearing skin-monitoring wristbands and brain-monitoring headbands completed cognitive tests while listening to music, drinking coffee and sniffing perfumes reflecting their individual preferences.

They also completed those tests without any of those stimulants.

According to the MINDWATCH algorithm, music and coffee measurably altered subjects’ brain arousal, essentially putting them in a physiological “state of mind” that could modulate their performance in the working memory tasks they were performing.

MINDWATCH discovered that the stimulants increased “beta band” brain wave activity, a state associated with peak cognitive performance.

“The pandemic has impacted the mental well-being of many people across the globe and now more than ever, there is a need to seamlessly monitor the negative impact of everyday stressors on one’s cognitive function,” said NYU Tandon’s Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Rose Faghih.

Moreover, the researchers tested three types of music, energetic and relaxing music familiar to the subject, as well as novel AI-generated music that reflected the subject’s tastes.

Consistent with previous MINDWATCH research, familiar energetic music delivered bigger performance gains, as measured by reaction times and correct answers, than relaxing music, while AI-generated music produced the biggest gains among all three, the study showed.

Drinking coffee led to notable but less-pronounced performance gains than music, and perfume had the most modest gains.

–IANS

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