Music-related Memory - Effects On Non-musical Memory

Effects On Non-musical Memory

Music has been shown to improve memory in several situations. In one study of musical effects on memory, visual cues (filmed events) were paired with background music. Later, participants who could not recall details of the scene were presented with the background music as a cue and recovered the inaccessible scene information.

Other research provides support for memory of text being improved by musical training. Words presented by song were remembered significantly better than when presented by speech. Earlier research has supported for this finding, that advertising jingles that pair words with music are remembered better than words alone or spoken words with music in the background. Memory was also enhanced for pairing brands with their proper slogans if the advertising incorporated lyrics and music rather than spoken words and music in the background.

Training in music has also been shown to improve verbal memory in children and adults. Participants trained in music and participants without a musical background were tested for immediate recall of words and recall of words after 15 minute delays. Word lists were presented orally to each participant 3 times and then participants recalled as many words as they could. Even when matched for intelligence, the musically trained participants tested better than non-musically trained participants. The authors of this research suggest that musical training enhances verbal memory processing due to neuroanatomical changes in the left temporal lobe, (responsible for verbal memory) which is supported by previous research. MRI has been used to show that this region of the brain is larger in musicians than non-musicians, which may be due to changes in cortical organization contributing to improved cognitive function.

Anecdotal evidence, from an amnesic patient named CH who suffered from declarative memory deficits, was obtained supporting a preserved memory capacity for song titles. CH's unique knowledge of accordion music allowed for experimenters to test verbal and musical associations. When presented with song titles CH was able to successfully play the correct song 100% of the time, and when presented with the melody she chose the appropriate title from several distractors with a 90% success rate.

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