Slow tempo music preserves attentional efficiency in young children

Yixue QUAN, Weiyi MA, Hui LI, William Forde THOMPSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Past research has shown that listening to slow- or fast-tempo music can affect adults’ executive attention (EA) performance. This study examined the immediate impact of brief exposure to slow- or fast-tempo music on EA performance in 4- to 6-year-old children. A within-subject design was used, where each child completed three blocks of the EA task after listening to fast-tempo music (fast-tempo block), slow-tempo music (slow-tempo block), and ocean waves (control block), with block-order counterbalanced. In each block, children were also asked to report their pre-task subjective emotional status (experienced arousal and valence) before listening to music and their post-task emotional status after the EA task. Three major results emerged. First, reaction time (RT) was significantly faster in the slow-tempo block than in the fast-tempo, suggesting that listening to slow-tempo music preserves processing efficiency, relative to fast-tempo music. Second, children’s accuracy rate in the EA task did not differ across blocks. Third, children’s subjective emotional status did not differ across blocks and did not change across the pre- and post-task phases in any block, suggesting the faster RT observed in the slow-tempo block cannot be explained by changes in arousal or mood. Copyright © 2022 The Psychonomic Society, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-984
JournalAttention, Perception, & Psychophysics
Early online dateDec 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


Quan, Y., Ma, W., Li, H., & Thompson, W. F. (2023). Slow tempo music preserves attentional efficiency in young children. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 85, 978-984.


  • Tempo
  • Executive attention
  • Emotional state
  • Music
  • Reaction time
  • Young children
  • Cognitive performance


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