FYI Daily

Is Classical or Classic Rock Better in the Operating Room?

Last updated:

October 06, 2011
Surgeons at work

Ninety percent of UK surgeons play music while they operate, according to a new survey. But does the type of music make a difference in the outcome?

According to The Guardian, 50 percent of surgeons said they listened to rock, 17 percent said pop music, and only 11 percent named classical as their top choice. One surgeon said she asks her nurse for music preferences before cranking up the volume.

It seems like personal preferences matters more than the music itself: A study in 1994 showed that surgeons, when faced with "a complex and stressful subtraction task," completed the math problem more quickly and accurately when listening to their favorite music than to pre-selected classical music, and more quickly and accurately when listening to pre-selected classical music than to no music at all.

What's more disturbing than the mental image of a surgery team rocking out to "Rocket Man"? Maybe the thought of a math problem that a surgeon would find "complex and stressful."