State Dependent Learning is a pretty well studied phenomena. But in addition to the effects of chemical states and moods described on the linked page, evidence has also been found that a person who studies in the same environment in which he or she is tested will perform better.
So here I am studying for this final and thinking about State Dependent Learning (which has nothing to do with network protocols, I assure you). I’m wired on caffeine right now, but that’s not a problem, because I’ll be equally wired on caffeine while I’m taking the test. Hell, I’ll probably be consuming caffeine while taking the test. I figure I’m not going to be able to take the test in my bedroom, so I’m not going to be able to do anything about the location factor.
But what I’m really pondering is Music. Of course I’ve been listening to music while studying, but I certainly won’t be able to listen to music while taking my final. Instead, when I’m taking tests, I always have some song or another that I hum to myself. Obviously, to be maximally effective, it should be a song I listened to a lot while studying.
So let’s see what I’ve been listening to today:
- Amon Tobin – Bricolage
- Amon Tobin – Permutation
- Amon Tobin – Supermodified
- Lamb – Lamb
- Moby – Play
- Moby – Play: The B-Sides
- Moby – 18
- Radiohead – OK Computer
- Radiohead – The Bends
- Radiohead – Kid A
- Radiohead – Amnesiac
Most of these are conducive to my studying because they either have no lyrics or I can easily ignore the lyrics. In contrast, I cannot study to TMBG no matter how much I love them, simply because I get distracted by unignorable lyrics.
Heck, the song I had stuck in my head during Monday’s final was Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box off of Amnesiac, so I should be in good shape to focus on a song I’ve been studying to during the final tomorrow.
Assuming, of course, I actually study instead of writing about studying.
I know there have been studies of the effect of music on learning, but I don’t have time to look them up right now and see if they thought to investigate state dependent learning effects as part of those experiments. Did they test the performance of the subjects with and without music? Did they poll the subjects to see if they were thought about the music they studied to while they were being tested? These would all be interesting questions to know the answers to, and seem extremely important to any study of the effects of music on learning.