Give Now

A Moment of Science

Thunderstruck Or A Sonata?

Scientists are studying how different sounds impact peoples' performances.

A close-up on the board game Operation. The game has an image of a man on a yellow background.

Photo: matt northam (Flickr)

Scientists studied how sound affects performance by having research study participants listen to different music while playing the game Operation.

A group of scientists wanted to figure out how music affected performance, so they put together a study where men and women played a board game, while listening to either a classical music selection, the Andante movement from the Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, or a rock song: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, or the typical sounds of an operating room.

Air Guitar, Air Piano, Or Air Scalpel?

It feels very strange to compare those two musical choices, let alone music and operating room sounds, but to give you more context, the board game the people were playing was Operation.

So, the three different options were present because they were studying to see whether these three selections would add to the volunteer’s stress level or make it easier for them to focus on the delicate task they were attempting to perform.

Women weren’t affected either way, but it turned out men made around thirty‑six mistakes while listening to AC/DC, compared to around twenty‑eight mistakes while Mozart or the sounds of an operating room played. Of course, this was just a board game of an operation, but many surgeons report playing music while operating.

One interesting thing is that there were some people who played the game better when a song was playing. The people who were beneficially affected by Mozart were those who already had an appreciation for the song that was played during their experiment.

Sources And Further Listening:

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science