If you're a senior citizen, music in the background may be distracting.
But for younger people—experts at multitasking—it's apparently no big deal.
That's according to a study in the journal Gerontologist.
Researchers recruited 103 people—half between the ages of 18 and 30, the others between 60 and 75.
The volunteers then took part in memorization exercises and a drill where they had to quickly match a photo of a face with the same face in an array of unfamiliar faces.
Some participants did the exercises in silence.
Others performed the tasks while listening to white noise or instrumental jazz, blues, classical and electronic music.
Across age groups, the consensus was that the background sound was distracting-but only older people's performance suffered when the noise was present.
For example, older folks who did the face-matching with music playing remembered 10 percent fewer faces.
The result matches up with the theory that the elderly are less able to filter out what's called “distracting task-irrelevant information.”
In this case the distracting info might have interfered with them storing the facial image in the first place—much less impeding their ability to remember it a short while later.