Saturday, April 14, 2012

Music and Memory

According to the article Popular Songs Can Cue Specific Memories, Psychology Research Shows, studies say that there was not a big difference in hearing a song played out loud and hearing a song in your head if you already knew it to trigger memories. Richard Harris, a Psychology professor at Kansas State University, described this occurrence to be a result of the fact that music is multimodal. This means that music infuses both words and instruments, where people will commonly use the left and right sides of the brain. A great quote from Harris, "Music is a rich stimulus… If we can't remember the words, we remember the music. I can remember advertising jingles from my childhood, but I don't remember the slogans without the music. Music may be something that our brains are primed to understand and enjoy in the same way we're primed to understand language, although language is much more fundamental."
An experiment was performed on a hundred and twenty four people between the ages of 18 and 20 in Spring 2003. They were given a list of songs from different stages of their life, which included early childhood, elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Then these subjects had to pick a song from each category that had the strongest memory association. They wrote about their memory and rated how vivid the memory was. The control group in the experiment was given only a list of the songs, while the test group heard clips of the song, read the lyrics, saw a picture of the album art, or saw a photograph of the artist to evoke a strong memory association. The results revealed that there was minimal difference between the answers given by the control and test group. Therefore, the study demonstrates that a song does not need to be heard to evoke strong memories; the title can just merely be listed and read.
Which song from your childhood do you associate strong memories with? A song that immediately pops into my head is the Spice Girls’ hit ‘Wannabe.’ This song reminds me of vivid memories of my sister and me dancing in our room during our childhood years. I think this popular song sparks strong memories for many people in my generation. It is true that I would not necessarily need to hear this song in order to evoke these memories since the song title would bring images of the music video and lyrics to my mind. It is really interesting to learn about how we can test our memories with psychological experiments.

Article Link:

No comments: