How Music Helps the ADHD Brain Focus

Music is beneficial to our well-being in more ways than one, and I’m sure most people could attest to that. When it comes to studying for those finals or concentrating on an important task, music can help some but may serve as a loud distraction for others. However, for those of us with ADHD, music can help us concentrate more than we may know–and that’s thanks to our unique neurological makeup, which reacts exceptionally well to patterns and sensory-engaging stimuli. 

So, how can music help, and what type of music helps? Below are some of the ways it can help, along with input from leading ADHD experts. 

  1. Helps to Keep Track of Time

The ADHD brain is prone to losing time, and listening to music, which relies on timing, structure, and rhythm, can be a great way to prevent your brain from losing hours to one task. Specifically, calm lo-fi beats (which can be found plentiful on YouTube) provide good background noise for our brains. 

Some ADHDers, though, prefer the opposite–intense, beat-heavy electronic music, which can act as a sort of auditory stimulant. But it’s certainly not for everyone, and experts recommend listening to music that isn’t too distracting. It’s all a matter of finding what works for you.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, “because many people with ADHD have trouble keeping track of time and duration, listening to music may help them improve their performance in these areas.”

  1. Increases Enjoyment of Task

Research shows that pleasurable music increases dopamine levels in our brains. Dopamine—responsible for regulating attention and motivation—is in low supply in ADHD brains, so listening to a great track while working or focusing can affect how happy you are doing it. And that can make a great difference.

William Schroeder of Just Mind Counseling says, “there are theories that center around the challenges of the ADHD brain which have to do with dysregulation in the amygdala, and music allows the distress to settle and thus the learning centers of the brain and executive function to be more engaged.”

  1. Helps Retain Information

Aside from its wonderful powers in attention regulation, dopamine also helps with our working memory! Listening to music while trying to memorize information can help cement that data into your memory.

Says Schroder, “ I also recommend wearing noise-canceling headphones from any of the major manufacturers to compliment the soundscapes you’re enjoying. These will not only hone in the track for your attention but also eliminate (or nearly eliminate) environmental distractions where you’re working, studying, or thinking.”


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