Background music at work is either an aid to concentration, a pleasant distraction or a pain in the neck according to who you ask but does it actually help people to concentrate? Nick Perham from the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff studied people as they attempted to recall a list of eight consonants in the order they were read out. Five different 'conditions' were used. In one participants had catchy pop music as a background, in another they had thrash metal, in a third they had a series of constantly changing numbers being read out and in a fourth they heard the same number being repeated over and over again. Finally some luckier participants got to carry out the task in silence. The participants listening to pop music, thrash metal and a changing series of numbers all did equally badly with the participants listening to an unchanging background and working in silence doing best. No doubt parents will be glad of some evidence to back them up as they tell their children to turn that &*%^ racket down.
You can find out more about this research by clicking on the link in the title of this post.