London: Men, take note! Listening to Mozart's music may help you better concentrate on a task, while AC/DC may make you slower and more prone to making mistakes, a new study has claimed. However, music was found to have no effect on women's performance.
A team from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music in the UK asked 352 visitors at a festival to play the game Operation. The game involves removing various body parts from a pretend patient - Cavity Sam - whose nose flashes and buzzes if your tweezers touch the metal sides of the body.
Researchers gave the volunteers headphones that played one of three tracks - Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, or the sound of an operating theatre. The team timed how long it took the participants to remove three body parts, as well as tracking their mistakes.
The results showed that men who listened to AC/DC were slower and made more mistakes, compared to men who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre. Thunderstruck triggered around 36 mistakes on average,
while the Sonata and operating theatre noises caused 28. It took volunteers around one minute to complete the task.
Women, however, did not seem to be distracted by the rock music and none of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed. Generally, women took longer to remove the body parts, but made fewer mistakes. The researchers are unsure why rock music affected men more than women. One explanation could be that rock music causes more auditory stress - a state triggered by loud or discordant music - in men, researchers said.
The scientists also asked people about their musical tastes and found that Mozart only reduced the number of mistakes people made if they reported high levels of appreciation for the Sonata they listened to. Music is reportedly played up to 72 per cent of the time in an operating theatre, said Daisy Fancourt, from the Centre for Performance Science, a collaboration between Imperial and the Royal College of Music.
However, experts are divided on whether it has a beneficial effect. Some research suggests that Jamaican music and Hip-Hop increases operating speed and surgical instrument manipulation. However another study reported that one in four anaesthetists, who are responsible for keeping patients sedated, said music reduced their vigilance.
"One of our areas of research is how we can boost performance in many different settings - from rowing in the Olympics, to a musical performance or delivering an important speech," said Fancourt. "This study suggests that for men who are operating or playing a board game, rock music may be a bad idea," she said. The research is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.