Music-related Memory - Lyrical Vs. Instrumental Memory

Lyrical Vs. Instrumental Memory

Many students listen to music while they study. Many of these students maintain that the reasons why they listen to music are to prevent drowsiness and to maintain their arousal for study. Some even believe that background music facilitates better work performance. However, Salame and Baddeley (1989) showed that both vocal and instrumental music interfered with performance of linguistic memory. They explained that disturbance in performance was caused by task-irrelevant phonological information using resources in the working memory system. This disturbance can be explained by the fact that the linguistic component of music can occupy the phonological loop, similar to the way speech does. This is further demonstrated by the fact that vocal music has been perceived to interfere more with memory than instrumental music, and nature sound music. Rolla (1993) explains that lyrics, being language, develop images that allow for the interpretation of experience in the communicative process. Current research coincides with this idea, and maintains that the sharing of experience by language in song may communicate feeling and mood much more directly than either language itself or instrumental music alone. Vocal music also affects emotion and mood much more swiftly than instrumental music. However, Fogelson (1973) reported instrumental music interfered with children's performance on a reading comprehension test.

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