The Marginal Effects of Lyrics On Alpha Wave Activity, Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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We investigated the potential effect of music (lyrical and instrumental) on an individual’s cognitive performance and physiological processes. The three measurements used in this analysis were heart rate, blood pressure, and alpha wave activity. It was hypothesized that when participants listened to instrumental music while completing a timed multiplication test, they would show decreased alpha wave activity (EEG), elevated heart rate (ECG), and increased blood pressure compared to completing the task in silence. Furthermore, it was expected that there would be a greater decrease in alpha brain wave activity and a greater increase in heart rate and blood pressure while listening to music with lyrics. It was also hypothesized that participants would answer fewer multiplication problems correctly while listening to instrumental music and even fewer problems correctly while listening to music with lyrics. On the whole, the lyrical component of music would exacerbate performance and further activate the sympathetic nervous system. No statistically significant differences of treatment on test performance, alpha wave activity, heart rate, or blood pressure emerged. However, instrumental music tended to elevate heart rates less dramatically than silence or music with lyrics. Ultimately, lyrical or instrumental music does not significantly affect a participant's performance, but because of the inherently stressful nature of timed tests, the physiological responses often include an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and a decrease in alpha wave activity. Therefore, some students may prefer to incorporate auditory stimuli into their study environments to decrease the effects of stress and anxiety when engaged in complex cognitive processing.