Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of "This is Your Brain on Music," says listening to music while you work is likely to make you less productive.

"You're having so much more fun," said Levitin, "that you feel more productive."

He cited a growing body of research suggesting that, in almost every case, your performance on intellectual tasks (think reading or writing) suffers considerably when you listen to music. A 2010 study found that people performed worse on a memory task when they listened to music in the background, compared to when they worked in quiet.

Levitin suggests an alternative: Listen to music for 10 to 15 minutes before you start working.

He explained that listening to tunes you enjoy can put you in a better mood and relax you. Your brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which gives you a "warm feeling of pleasure." You may also get a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which elevates your mood and can make it easier to focus.

Unfortunately, Levitin said, listening to music also takes up some of your attentional capacity, meaning that if you listened to it while working, you'd have fewer resources left to direct toward the task at hand.

The exception is when you're performing tasks that are repetitive or monotonous, such as when you're working on an assembly line or driving for long periods of time.

In those cases, Levitin said, it's easy to get bored, so music can increase your arousal and help you pay more attention to your work.

Source: Business Insider www.businessinsider.com

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