As the Finals issue features a great article on study-friendly instrumental tracks, we got inspired to explore the relationship of music and focus a bit further. It’s no surprise that while studying, many students prefer white noise or music to the jarring sound of chairs scraping throughout Moffit. But are there particular types of music that are more conducive to learning or focus? Some research suggests there are.

Studies in music and cognition receiving most media attention are those focused on what many dub the Mozart effect. The term usually refers to several similar theories, all centered on the idea that classical music may aid in temporary or long-term learning enhancement. In one experiment, students exposed to classical music showed increased — but temporary — spatial-temporal reasoning ability.

Similarly, gamma waves can describe a specific pattern of neural oscillations — brain waves — at a frequency of around 50 Hz. Researchers such as György Buzsaki have published evidence suggesting that the nature of the frequency of these waves may aid conscious attention through facilitating activity within the thalamus, a brain structure partially involved in alertness and consciousness. While the theory remains in need of further support, we still suggest trying out gamma-wave music therapy for yourself!

Our favorite tracks
We love Youtube tracks (1) Biaural Beats: Study, Focus, Concentrate and (2) High focus – Gamma brainwaves in particular, because they’re repetitive enough to discourage distraction. For those who might prefer classical music, we suggest the (3) Study Music Project, also on Youtube. Happy finals prep week!


Image source: Karmalize under Creative Commons.


Nothing is going right, it’s one of those days. It’s raining and you forgot your jacket, your socks are wet. You didn’t understand half the questions on your quiz in discussion and you can’t find a seat in Moffitt. When you were walking home a car hit a pothole and splashed water all over you. You tried to make a joke and no one laughed. It’s a bad day. What you could really use is a pick-me-up along with some instant noodles, a hot shower and a hug. We can’t help you with those last three but we can help you find some great compliments on the fly to help turn that frown upside down.

Emergency Compliment is a site just for that. It has nice collection of creative pick-me-ups that puts a grin on our faces. Here’s just a few:

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Yes, we all know exam time is full of stress, and for a lot of us that can translate to a bad mood, procrastination, or less-than-ideal habits… but you don’t need to spread that crap around for the rest of us. Here are some ways of struggling through exam week while still saving face — for everyone’s sake!

1. Don’t ask people at the library to watch your stuff “for a second,” and then leave for 3 hours.
No, really, our sphincter muscles are already those of a 90-year-old’s from drinking four cups of Peet’s this morning. We need to pee, so don’t blame us if we take advantage of that precious – but conveniently empty – Nalgene bottle you’ve left us to supervise.

2. Don’t take “study aids” and then proceed to make a huge racket in Main Stacks because you didn’t realize you would be yakked out of your mind.
Last year in Main Stacks we sat next to a girl in a cubicle who had obviously taken a… choice pharmaceutical… and spent several hours throwing books all over the place, scribbling like a maniac, and shaking. Yikes.

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Some people swear by the power nap, others simply call it a myth. The power nap is traditionally thought of as an afternoon nap that lasts somewhere between fifteen and thirty minutes. When done right, Power napping has numerous benefits. A power nap relieves stress and allows you to re-energize. You’ll also be more productive and alert when you return to work. According to Web MD (Dr. Web is a real doctor right?) there are few main keys to power napping.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” a biblical man once said in some biblical book.

Winter break provided some much needed rest for many of our finals-ravaged students. Some took the break to come down from their Adderall high, while others sipped hot cocoa and made snow angels. However, some didn’t see the holidays as calming as others. For those who feel the need to de-stress by committing felonies (see burning christmas tree), there are other ways to do so this year! With midterms rearing around the corner for many people, here are some new ways to avert your frustration…

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With more than half the semester already over, retaining information for those dreaded finals (or even more midterms) becomes exceedingly difficult for us non-geniuses. Instead of boring you with tips on forming a study group you can find via CollegeBoard via Google, we would like to give our own take on studying in a group. True, some students study better flying solo, but group learning can help retain information in two ways. read more »

raputreDespite the strange number of foreboding earthquakes the day before the much-anticipated “Rapture,” the end of the world turned out to be a pretty enjoyable Friday.

Unfortunately for most of us, since the world is still here, so are midterms. Darn it! Guess we still have to study. But with the rapture now behind us, our dear Yoshua is nowhere to be seen … as of now. Which begs the question, will he come back?

The Clog couldn’t snatch an interview with the spiritual herald, so we consulted the expertise of Dale Loepp, a Ph.D. candidate in Jewish Studies and a GSI for Religious Studies 90A.

The Clog: Why didn’t the rapture happen? read more »

sick picNo, a common cold doesn’t kill nowadays, but it does take a lot of energy out of you. Especially with midterms kicking into gear, getting sick is one of the last things students want to deal with.

The common cold is caused by a virus, so don’t buy medications just yet! Most medications treat the symptoms of a cold and don’t kill the virus directly. The symptoms come from the bacteria that take advantage of your weakened immune system (thanks to the virus). Too much medication means the bacteria will eventually gain immunity to them, and symptoms get more difficult to get rid of. Rather, let your immune system do what it was designed to do: OBLITERATE get rid of the virus itself.

But what of the symptoms? No medicine = miserable and tired college student? Fret not, the Clog has some methods (almost) guaranteed to soothe. read more »


New findings by UC Berkeley researchers indicate that sleep is no longer pointless, as some of us may believe, especially during midterm season. Sleep does not waste precious study time, in fact, it helps us study better and retain more information. Sleep waves called “sleep spindles,” generated during sleep, work on our memory systems and learning functions. An experiment involving two groups of students, one with no sleep, and the other with a sufficient amount of sleep was conducted. These students attempted to learn the same information, yet those with more sleep in their system performed better. Not only do you have an excuse to sleep more, but you also have an excuse to study less!

Now who said all- nighters take us to the path of success?  Prove them wrong; go get some good shut eye, and ace that midterm!

Earlier: Feel Worse About Your Favorite Treat
Image Source: DigitalBob8 Under Creative Commons
As We Sleep, Speedy Brain Waves Boost our Ability to Learn [UC Berkeley News Center]


We’re sorry to tell you this, folks, especially during midterm season, but the Spring 2011 schedule is now available online. Feel the panic coursing through your veins. Embrace it. Stay cool.

While you’re at it, look at this in the best way possible. You’ve got a clean slate next semester, a chance to start over. Plus it’s not Tele-BEARS time yet, so you’re still in the arena of thinking about starting to think about next semester.

You probably don’t want to hear more advice from a Broadway musical, but we don’t care. So we’ll add: “don’t get hot, ’cause man you’ve got some high times ahead.”

At any rate, at least this means that we’re about a third of the way done with this semester. And that’s not something to sneeze at — unless, of course, you’re one of the millions of people who are sick and wheezing all over campus.

Image source: anna gutermuth under Creative Commons

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