Composed to immerse the player and capture his attention, the music of video games promote the state of "flow" brain, a state of maximum concentration perfect to play ... or to work. Our advice, and our playlist
Sit in front of his computer keyboard. Start answering dozens of messages. Stop after writing just a sentence to - choose - go to the bathroom, prepare a coffee, buy a t-shirt online or check his notifications on social networks ... The scene sounds familiar? It's normal. We all live it daily. In the face of cognitive tasks, our attention may be indomitable, reviewing just about every possible activity and thought, as long as it distracts us from the chores to accomplish.
Several techniques exist to remedy this. One of the most common is probably listening to music. While some songs have the gift of distracting us, other melodies are more conducive to bringing the brain into a state of maximum concentration, called "flow", which is often accompanied by increased productivity. But all the music is not equal. Some make you want to dance, to sing ... To concentrate, ambient music, present in number in video games, are certainly among the most effective.
The effects of music on behavior have long been studied. One of the most famous examples is undoubtedly what was called the "Mozart effect". In 1993, Nature published the work of Frances Rancher's team at the University of Whoosh in the United States. This psychologist had imagined an experiment in which volunteers listened for ten minutes, either Mozart's Sonata for two pianos in D major , or verbal instructions for relaxation, or silence. Then they performed visual and abstract spatial reasoning tests immediately and for fifteen minutes, one of the components of the IQ tests. As a result, the band that listened to Mozart's work scored better than the others.
Listen to Mozart to increase his IQ? The media did not resist this dangerous shortcut, even though the effect was never confirmed by other scientists. For the anecdote, the weakness of these results did not prevent, in the United States, the governors of Tennessee and Georgia to request the distribution in their respective states of Mozart's CD to each newborn ... "The music may have the power to improve attention and cognitive performance, but these are very difficult relationships to demonstrate, "says Laura Levy, a psychologist at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Music, this dog bone
One thing is certain: the neuronal circuits of attention are involved in this phenomenon. In the brain, they are divided into two major systems. The first, conscious, is one that allows you to focus on a given task, for example write an e-mail. The second, unconscious and permanently activated, spends its time scanning the environment for noises or other stimuli large enough to disturb the first system and make it "change the subject". A neighbor of open space sneezing or futile thinking: first unconsciously detected, these stimuli end up grabbing our attention. Should we see the remains of our ancestral reptilian brain, adapted to a dangerous environment, at a time when the slightest crack of branch could mean the imminent arrival of a predator? Perhaps.
Read also: Concentration, this major asset at work.
For Jean-Philippe Lascaux, director of research in cognitive neuroscience at Inseam's Cognitive Dynamics and Cognition Unit in Lyon, and author of the book The Tightrope Brain , so-called sentinel neurons would constantly evaluate the value of what we are doing. And would be responsible for our dropouts. Whatever the structure that explains the phenomenon, music seems to be able to act on the arbitration between these two systems. It is indeed able to catch the unconscious system of attention, thus preventing it from distracting the conscious component. In other words, music is a bone thrown to a dog in order to have peace. click here to see the best online games.
But we must not throw the first bone come: the music must meet certain criteria. First on the tempo: it must be rather slow ... but not too much, otherwise the dog returns to the charge. A moderate tempo ambient music, as many video games offer, will cradle the unconscious attention more effectively than a piece of speed core .
Video game music is often only instrumental, and so much the better: voices are magnets at attention. "Classical music, with a slow and calm tempo, can have positive effects on certain tasks of language comprehension and memorization", summarizes Reveille Benson, of the cognitive neuroscience laboratory in Marseilles. "On the other hand, if the background is very noisy, for example if it is too fast or if it contains tonal modulations, it can lose the thread of the task." Finally, the music should probably please some of the differences observed in scientific studies.
Video game music is therefore a perfect bone to divert unconscious attention. Which is not surprising: after all, it is composed with the objective of immersing the player in the universe of the work and putting it in good conditions to keep his attention on the game.
It remains to be seen which video games to turn to. Modern productions, with their large budgets, do not hesitate to recruit genuine professional orchestras whose production will be more conducive to concentration and relaxation of the soundtracks PAC-Man or, worse, of Bubble Bobble . Ambiance music, as well as those of the menus, are to be favored for those who wish to concentrate.
A difference between introverts and extroverts
Still, despite these few lines on how to choose the best soundtrack to focus, the results are never guaranteed. As Laura Levy points out, "it is almost impossible to decide definitively on the impact of music without taking into account individual differences". In her thesis work, the researcher noticed a difference in the interpretation of perceived concentration gain, depending on whether people are introverted or extroverted. "Extroverts have the feeling that music helps them focus on the game, while introverts say that music helps them forget that they were in an experimental setting."
Video games are not the only sector to offer music conducive to "flow" cerebral: machines also get started. Thus the start-up Brainstorm , which has developed a web and mobile application based on artificial intelligence algorithms able to generate music, promises to listen to its customers various pieces depending on the situation (concentration, meditation , sleep and nap are currently available). According to the company, their music "stimulates the attention circuits of the brain" and triggers the desired effects after ten minutes of listening.
Want to try working with video game music? We have selected some tracks in this playlist available on YouTube. It brings together various styles for dozens of hours of listening.
This playlist is not made to be "listened" strictly speaking, it must remain a discreet background sound
So prefer listening to low, and even very low volume, preferably with a good headphones
If a piece concentrates you, skip it. But do not focus on the sound: even perfectly focused, it is normal to pick up from time to time. It is better not to pay too much attention, rather than spend time zapping the pieces.
The brain needs ten to fifteen minutes to go into "flow", it's not instantaneous
The order does not matter, you can start with any of these pieces