A study which found that listening to music with a groove can enhance brain activity could pave the way for new strategies designed to improve cognitive performance.

Japanese researchers found that the rhythm of the music improved executive function in the brain, but only amongst people who said they experienced a strong groove sensation and a feeling of clear headedness after listening to the music.

Now the team say it could lead to the development of new therapy programmes for patient groups, such as those with dementia.

While it is well known that groove music can stimulate feelings of pleasure, and that exercise can improve brain activity, there has been no research on the effect of groove music on cognitive performance.

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba set out to examine the link, with lead author Professor Hideaki Soya saying: “In the present study, we conducted brain imaging to evaluate corresponding changes in executive function, and measured individual psychological responses to groove music.

“The results were surprising. We found that groove rhythm enhanced executive function and activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex only in participants who reported that the music elicited a strong groove sensation and the sensation of being clear-headed.”

The team measured the results by asking participants to carry out a colour-word matching task after listening to music, and to fill out a survey.

Professor Soya said: “Our findings indicate that individual differences in psychological responses to groove music modulate the corresponding effects on executive function. As such, the effects of groove rhythm on human cognitive performance may be influenced by familiarity or beat processing ability.”

Read the study in full in the journal Scientific Reports.

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