Think twice before you plug into your favorite music while at work. For, new research has suggested that listening to music at work can affect your performance by impairing the abilities to concentrate and recall.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wales Institute, suggests that what you hear while trying to concentrate can be distracting and impair your ability to memorize and recall information. To understand the distracting effects of music, the researchers carried out an experiment in a sample size of 25 people aged between 18 and 30.

The young subjects were tested under several different conditions: in a quiet environment, while their choice of music was playing, and while music that they disliked was playing. In the course of listening to the music, the researchers gave them some exercises.

They asked the sample group to recall a list of eight consonants in a specific order in a test known as serial recall. They were also tested while a voice repeated the number three or spoke single-digit numbers randomly.

The study found that participants performed best while in a quiet environment or in a steady-state environment while listening to a voice repeating the number three over and over.

“The poorer performance of the music and changing-state sounds is due to the acoustical variation within those environments. This impairs the ability to recall the order of items, via rehearsal, within the presented list,” says Nick Perham, PhD, Wales Institute in Cardiff.

People should either perform the task in quiet or only listen to music prior to performing the task to reduce the negative effects of background music when recalling information in a specific order, he suggested.

Earlier researches had shown that listening to the music of Mozart increased concentration. This was even called the so-called Mozart Effect.

The new findings published in the latest issue of the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, may have implications for studying skills in which students typically study for examinations while listening to music, the researchers said.