The Science Behind Sound and How It Impacts Your Focus

This article is written by Sarah, the editor of Headphone Selection, which helps you choose the best headphones. She loves all sound technology and firmly believes in the power of positive music.

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It is no secret that sound can impact your focus and concentration.

For some individuals, having sound or music in the background can actually increase their focus. For others, white noise or silence is the best route so they can become fully immerse in what they are doing.

No matter who you are, sound will affect your focus, the question is, how?

Sounds and Productivity

These two go hand in hand. In fact, background noise, or what is known as low level noise. can cause distractions and disrupt many people’s concentration.

According to Scientific American, ambient sounds or noises can negatively affect overall health by increasing stress levels and further aggravating stress related health issues which include: coronary disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, and/or even peptic ulcers.

It is also suggested that noise induced stressors can cause a decrease in the brain’s dopamine productions and this limits the brain’s ability to control information flow throughout the body.

Any stress the brain takes on caused from background noises can result in impaired memory and learning, and a decrease in higher brain functions will also be seen.

However, this is only the case for some individuals. With other people, background noise does not cause any stress and can even relax them.

Some people have the ability to tune out the sounds going on around them, or they are stimulated to further points of focus by background music or white noise.

Effects of Different Sound Waves

The different levels of sound waves can cause different effects on the brain and therefore the overall focus of an individual.

The way the brain works is by the billions of neurons that communicate to each other through electronic waves within it. As neurons fire, they can be affected by the external environment around them.

For example, if you have music on while you exercise, your body and mind will be prone to working out harder.

According to Dr. Jeffery Thompson, sound waves can affect the brain’s waves either positively or negatively. What’s more, the 4 types of brain waves – Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Theta – are prone to getting into sync with any music or sounds around you.

The human brain has a tendency to change its dominant EEG waves towards any external sounds around it. This can be positive and relaxing for some, but stressing for others.

Hypnotic Effects of Certain Sound Waves

Audio sensory can induce hypnosis in certain situations. This is known as binaural beat and it is an auditory illusion.

It can be achieved when two different sine waves with frequencies lower than 1500Hz and fewer than 40Hz between the two, are placed in each ear.

For example, if your right ear is listening to 1400Hz and your left ear is listening to 1370Hz, you can achieve this effect because your brain will automatically pick up a third tone – the binaural beat.

When the brain hears a binaural beat, it can cause an individual to feel hypnotized by the sound. In comparison of EEG’s brains that are listening to binaural beats and those that are experiencing meditation have nearly the exact same readings on the EEG charts.

White Noise for Maximizing Focus

White noise can provide a soothing and relaxing background noise, which can maximize your overall focus. There are different levels of ‘white’ noise which can include pink noise, white noise, and brown noise just to name a few.

When you are interested in improving your ability to concentrate, these different types of white noise can provide the stimulus your brain needs to focus, by delivering just the right amount of sound without the distraction of lyrics or intense musical beats.

The right kind of white noise can help relax your brain while still allowing you to hone your focus on the task in front of you.

If having background noise is something you enjoy and you want to increase your focus, try out the different degrees of white noise to find the one that will work best for you and your brain.

Sounds and focus directly correlate to your productivity. Finding the right balance of either silence, white noise, or stimulating music, can be crucial to your focus and therefore, your productivity.

Each and every one of us has a differently wired brain and sound will affect us differently, so it’s up to you to find what works best for your focus – silence, white noise, or your favorite songs.

Are you struggling with finding focus? Have you recently tried white noise? Let us know about your experience!

See also:

Does White Noise Really Help You Sleep Better?
How Music Affects Your Productivity

Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

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