Effects of Soundscapes on Cognitive Processes in Education


  • Andrej Filipič University of Ljubljana



The role of music in educational processes has been researched from three main perspectives: the short term, performance- boosting effects of music, immediately prior to a cognitive task; the long term effects of learning music on other cognitive functions; music as background for other cognitive processes [1]. Our research focuses on the last perspective and includes a broader conceptualisation of music as soundscapes (i.e. including, besides music, also noises, nature sounds, etc.). Previous research suggests background music can affect learning processes, but such studies have most often focused on simple cognitive processes (e.g. memory and recall), while there is a lack of research on complex cognitive processes (e.g., problem-solving, skills learning, metacognition) [2], which are exactly the focus of our research. Soundscapes (e.g., even traffic noise) are often inevitable parts of our learning environments and it is therefore imperative we understand their effect on learning processes, to more effectively teach.


We will collect demographic data on music skills, behavioural data on cognitive task performance, phenomenological data about how a soundscape is experienced, the perception and liking of the soundscape (e.g. valence, arousal, salience, familiarity), and emotions relevant to the learning process. The correlation will be checked between these, and objective soundscape

parameters (e.g., loudness, tempo). If possible, physiological data will also be collected (e.g., heart rate) and analysed for correlation with soundscape parameters.

Expected Results

We expect to find significant correlations between distinctive types of soundscapes and better performance at specific cognitive processes, as well as changes in the emotions of participants. We expect to find a more salient presence of music in the phenomenal experience of musically skilled participants compared to less skilled ones. A pragmatic outcome should be a list of which, if any, soundscapes can be used to directly stimulate or indirectly facilitate distinctive cognitive processes within learning experiences, and on the other hand, which distinctive soundscapes, if any, hinder specific learning processes - this would give a teacher the knowledge to appropriately manipulate the soundscape of a learning environment, depending on the needs of the learning process.


[1] R. Črnčec, S. Wilson and M. Prior, “The Cognitive and Academic Benefits of Music to Children: Facts and fiction”, Educational Psychology, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 579–594, 2006. Available: 10.1080/01443410500342542

[2] E. de la Mora Velasco and A. Hirumi, “The effects of background music on learning: a systematic review of literature to guide future research and practice”, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 68, no. 6, pp. 2817–2837, 2020. Available: 10.1007/s11423–020-09783–4