Listening to music is a major part of everyday life, whether it be while exercising, studying, or just driving around. But did you know this habit could boost your memory?

Many find music to be the perfect accompaniment during times that require prolonged focus or concentration. Perhaps the most popular time being while studying for a test or exam. Besides breaking up the monotony of study, listening to music may also assist your learning. Over the centuries, the study of how music affects the mind has been prolific. So, what have these studies informed us about what kind of music we should be listening to in order to boost our memory?

One popular musical theory – The Mozart Effect – suggested that listening to Mozart before undertaking particular tasks, improved a person’s ability to solve problems correctly. Several studies surrounding this subject, however, have presented contradictory results - but what findings have confirmed, is that listening to classical music, in general, can enhance cognitive abilities.

Many disruptors of learning and memory come from stress or anxiety, and this is where music plays an incredibly helpful role. Listening to soothing and relaxing music can help reduce these stressors while in turn focusing the mind – clearing the way for the development of long-term memories. Using background music over a prolonged period can also improve mood, provide motivation and aid mental endurance. Through these kinds of processes, classical and calming music indirectly boosts memory formation.

On the other hand, listening to the wrong type of music can adversely affect your memory. Loud or agitating music can distract focus from the task at hand making it difficult to establish comprehension when reading or writing. Equally, studies have found listening to lyric-heavy music while undertaking literature-based tasks can result in an individual absorbing less information than those who weren’t listening to distracting music.

Memory boosting music isn’t just for those studying for their next exam or recalling information out of a textbook. Recent studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggest that listening to music can help boost memory for older adults with preclinical memory loss. The study, conducted by researchers from West Virginia University, looked at older adults with subjective cognitive decline – known to be a strong predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. Participants undertook music-listening programs and were asked to practice the program only 12 minutes a day for 12 weeks.

The findings of the study revealed significant improvements in the participant’s subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance. Suggesting that simple mind-body practices can not only improve mood, sleep, and quality of life, as many previous studies have suggested but that they can also boost cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults – demonstrating just how powerful music can be.

While no research has determined the perfect song you should use to maximize cognitive performance, the important thing is to listen to music you enjoy – ideally, the songs that make you feel the calmest and most relaxed.

If you’re ever looking for a place to start finding some new music, Kanguru creates music playlists for different moods. You can find them on Spotify at


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