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Abstract

A lot of research has been done on the effects of music and sounds on performance in many study areas. However, there have been mixed results about what kind of effects music can have. The musical pleasure was found to influence task performance, and the direction of this effect was dependent on the individual factors (Gold, Frank, Bogert, & Brattico, 2013). According to Fassbender, Richards, Bilgin, Thompson, and Heiden (2012), music affects memory. Music during a study or learning phase hindered memory but increased mood and sports performance. The aim of this experiment was to investigate if music can help to memorize different tests like nonsense syllables, numbers, and rhyming poems. Students participating in this experiment were from different faculties (N = 74, 75% females) between the ages of 18-22 years old. The experiment consisted of four different self-created tests based on the experiment of nonsense syllables from Ebbinghaus (1885). The first phase of this experiment included the first test, which consisted of 50 nonsense syllables. Based on the results of the first tests, students were divided into three balanced groups. This was done in order to have three groups with students who showed almost the same prior memory test score. Then, three other tests were administered. The first group was taking the tests without music at all and in silence, the second group was taking the tests while listening to lyrical music, and the third group while listening to relaxing music. All three groups had five minutes to memorize whatever was required from each of the three different tests. Then, they were asked to write down whatever they could recall. The first test consisted of 50 other nonsense syllables, including three same syllables (e.g. zhgl and zhgl), the second test consisted of 12 rhyming lines from poems, and the third test consisted of 50 different numbers. The music was the same—same volume and with headphones on—during the memorizing phase and was repeated during the recalling phase. The results showed that there were significant differences in memorizing rhyming lines from poems and in memorizing the three same nonsense syllables between students who were not listening to any kind of music and students who were listening to music. This study concluded that music affects memory negatively. This means that students who were not listening to any kind of music were able to memorize and recall more items. This study also concluded that silence helps to detect and memorize the same nonsense syllables more than while being distracted with music. When it comes to memorizing better keep the music down! Keywords: Memory, music, memory tests, the effects of music.
The Impact of Music on Memory
Arian Musliu, Blerta Berisha, Arjeta Musaj, Diellza Latifi & Djellon Peci
Heimerer College
Abstract
A lot of research has been done on the effects of music and sounds on performance in
many study areas. However, there have been mixed results about what kind of effects music can
have. The musical pleasure was found to influence task performance, and the direction of this
effect was dependent on the individual factors (Gold, Frank, Bogert, & Brattico, 2013).
According to Fassbender, Richards, Bilgin, Thompson, and Heiden (2012), music affects
memory. Music during a study or learning phase hindered memory but increased mood and
sports performance. The aim of this experiment was to investigate if music can help to memorize
different tests like nonsense syllables, numbers, and rhyming poems. Students participating in
this experiment were from different faculties (N = 74, 75% females) between the ages of 18-22
years old. The experiment consisted of four different self-created tests based on the experiment
of nonsense syllables from Ebbinghaus (1885). The first phase of this experiment included the
first test, which consisted of 50 nonsense syllables. Based on the results of the first tests, students
were divided into three balanced groups. This was done in order to have three groups with
students who showed almost the same prior memory test score. Then, three other tests were
administered. The first group was taking the tests without music at all and in silence, the second
group was taking the tests while listening to lyrical music, and the third group while listening to
relaxing music. All three groups had five minutes to memorize whatever was required from each
of the three different tests. Then, they were asked to write down whatever they could recall. The
first test consisted of 50 other nonsense syllables, including three same syllables (e.g. zhgl and
zhgl), the second test consisted of 12 rhyming lines from poems, and the third test consisted of
50 different numbers. The music was the samesame volume and with headphones onduring
the memorizing phase and was repeated during the recalling phase. The results showed that there
were significant differences in memorizing rhyming lines from poems and in memorizing the
three same nonsense syllables between students who were not listening to any kind of music and
students who were listening to music. This study concluded that music affects memory
negatively. This means that students who were not listening to any kind of music were able to
memorize and recall more items. This study also concluded that silence helps to detect and
memorize the same nonsense syllables more than while being distracted with music. When it
comes to memorizing better keep the music down!
Keywords: Memory, music, memory tests, the effects of music.
The Impact of Music on Memory
Memory is a complex ability. That being said, there are three types of memories: long-
term memory, short-term (usually referred to as working memory), and sensory memory. In
order to save the information into long-term memory, the information should be processed
through sensory and short-term memory. Short-term memory is the working mechanism,
however, it holds up to 6 items at the same time and it is limited from 10-60 seconds. The
different types of memories differ substantially, however, they work together to memorization
(Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1971). Other factors affecting memory, especially short-term memory, are
still unknown. Thus, we believe that one of the factors that can have an effect on short-term
memory is music. Music is a play of tones, which is fixed and is usually perceived as satisfying.
In other words, it is a combination of sounds (Wiora, 1963).
A lot of research has been done on the effects of music and sounds on performance in
many study areas. However, there have been mixed results about what kind of effects music can
have. The musical pleasure was found to influence task performance, and the direction of this
effect was dependent on the individual factors (Gold, Frank, Bogert, & Brattico, 2013). In this
line, Martin, Wogalter, and Forlano (1988) showed that lyrical music impaired reading
comprehension. However, the music and cognition literature suggests that music increases
cognitive performance (Hallam, Price, & Katsarou, 2002; Särkämö et al., 2008). Thus, the
causality of the effect of music is still unknown.
Other studies also showed mixed results when it comes to the effect of music on memory.
For example, Christopher and Shelton (2017) showed that music negatively affected overall
reading performance. It also showed that attention is a crucial factor that protects individuals
from such music and sounds distractions when completing certain tasks. Short-term memory,
which is referred to as working memory, showed a moderation effect of the music on the overall
reading performance. Similarly, Fassbender, Richards, Bilgin, Thompson, and Heiden (2012),
found that music negatively affected memory during a study or learning phase but increased
mood and sports performance. On the other hand, music was found to have a positive effect on
adult working memory performance. This study, however, used only a specific type of music,
which is an excerpt from Vivaldi’s “Four Season” (Mammarella, Fairfield, & Cornoldi, 2007).
Further benefits of music are positive emotions and mood regulation (Sloboda & O’neill, 2001;
Saarikallio & Erkkilä, 2007). Studies showed that listening to music, which individuals found
pleasurable, yielded in a significant increase in dopamine, which is the hormone of happiness
(Nadler, Rabi, & Minda, 2010). Moreover, some studies imply that Mozart Effect can boost
cognitive performance (Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky, 1993). However, it is still unknown if there are
causal effects between these factors. Therefore, further subsequent studies have revealed that
Mozart’s compositions do not directly affect cognitive performance, but it rather affects mood
and exploit positive emotions (Nantais & Schellenberg, 1999; Thompson, Schellenberg, &
Husain, 2001).
To further investigate the effect of positive emotions and mood on short-term memory,
Carpenter (2012) experimented with older adults (aged 63-85). Participants were asked to
complete a computer-based task, in which they had the opportunity to win money or lose money
depending on the decision they made, which required memorization. Participants who were
assigned to the positive-feeling condition demonstrated improved short-term memory capacity.
This study concluded that the effect of feeling good can have an effect on short-term memory
and in the decision making process. Based on similar studies, the Chinese University of Hong
Kong used music as a training method for memory. They found that pupils who undergo musical
training demonstrated better verbal but not visual memory than did their counterparts without
such training. These effects were found after one year as well. Pupils who begun or continued
musical training showed better verbal memory capacity than pupils who discontinued it (Ho,
Cheung, & Chan, 2003).
Study Aim
This experimental study aimed to investigate if music can help to memorize different
tests like nonsense syllables, numbers, and rhyming poems. Further, we aimed to answer this
research question: “What is the impact of music in short-term memory?”
Hypotheses
H1: Lyrical music hinders short-term memory capacity in comparison to the no-music condition.
H2: Relaxing music facilitates short-term memory in comparison to the no-music condition.
Methodology
Sample
Students were from different faculties of University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina” and
Heimerer College (N = 74, 75% females) between the ages of 18-22 years old. Most of the
participants (57.8%) had only one preferred type of music, where the most preferred music was
R&B (21.6%). Above half of the participants (54%) listen to music while studying.
Instruments
For this experimental study, four different tests were created based on the experiment of
nonsense syllables from Ebbinghaus (1885). The first test consisted of 50 nonsense syllables,
which was administered prior to the actual experiment. The first test during the experiment
consisted of 50 other nonsense syllables, including three same syllables (e.g. zhgl and zhgl), the
second test consisted of 12 rhyming lines from poems, and the third test consisted of 50 different
numbers. Furthermore, this experiment included two different kinds of music: (1) Shattered
Lyrics and (2) Relaxing Music for Brain and Concentration, which is instrumental music.
Procedure
Before administrating the tests, permission was granted from the faculties, and
participants were told about the aim of the experiment. The experiment took place for two days
in a row. On the first day, the first phase of the experiment took place. Participants completed the
first test, which consisted of 50 nonsense syllables. Based on the results of the first tests, students
were divided into three balanced groups. This was done in order to have three groups with
students who showed almost the same prior memory test score. On the second day, three other
tests were administered. The first group was taking the tests without music at all and in silence,
the second group was taking the tests while listening to lyrical music, and the third group while
listening to relaxing music. Participants were using headphones, including here the no-music
group, to eliminate any potential distraction. All three groups had five minutes to memorize
whatever was required from each of the three different tests. Then, they were asked to write
down whatever they could recall. The music was the samesame volume and with headphones
onduring the memorizing phase and was repeated during the recalling phase.
Results
Below, the main findings of this experimental study were presented, which aimed to test
the hypotheses and give an answer to the research question. The results presented in Table 1
showed that there were significant differences in memorizing and recalling the same nonsense
syllables and rhyming lines of poems between the three groups but not numbers and nonsense
syllables. Further, mean comparison analyses between groups were conducted. Results showed
that there was a significant difference in the same nonsense syllables and rhyming lines of poems
between the no-music group and the lyrical music group. Furthermore, the results showed that
there was a significant difference in the rhyming line of poems between the no-music group and
the relaxing music group. The no-music group significantly memorized and recalled more same
nonsense syllables (M = 1.91, SD = .51) in comparison to the lyrical music group (M = 1.03, SD
= .89). Moreover, the no-music group significantly memorized and recalled more rhyming lines
of poems (M = 8.13, SD = 2.30) in comparison to the lyrical music group (M = 6.25. SD = 2.78).
Similarly, the no-music group significantly memorized more rhyming lines of poems (M = 8.13.
SD = 2.30) in comparison to the relaxing music group (M = 6.39, SD = 1.97). However, no
significant differences were detected regarding numbers and the total nonsense syllables between
any of the groups. Also, there were no significant differences in any of the tests between the
lyrical music group and the relaxing music group.
Table 1
Mean Differences on Short-Term Memory Tests Between Three Groups
Sum of
Squares
Mean
Square
F
p
Numbers
Between Groups
18.83
9.41
0.50
.606
Total nonsense syllables
Between Groups
9.58
4.79
0.27
.759
Same nonsense syllables
Between Groups
9.58
4.79
6.70
.002
Rhyming lines of poems
Between Groups
51.85
25.92
4.50
.015
Discussion
This study aimed to investigate the effect that music has on short-term memory. Previous
findings showed mixed results regarding this effect. However, based on the results of the current
study, music negatively affected short-term memory. Our first hypothesis, which stated that
lyrical music hinders short-term memory in comparison to no-music condition, was partly
confirmed. The results showed that were significant differences in the same nonsense syllables
and rhyming lines of poems between the no-music group and the lyrical music group, where no-
music group participants memorized and recalled more items. However, there were no
significant differences regarding the total nonsense syllables and numbers.
The second hypothesis, which stated that relaxing music facilitates short-term memory in
comparison to no-music condition, was rejected. Results showed that the no-music group did
significantly better detecting and remembering the same nonsense syllables and the rhyming
lines of poems in comparison to the relaxing music conditions. However, there were no
significant differences regarding other tests. Moreover, no significant differences were detected
between the lyrical music group and the relaxing music group.
Although we were able to detect some significant differences, that helped us to
understand the effect of music on short-term memory, we could not detect such differences in
other tests. This study also showed mixed results, therefore, causality cannot be inferred.
However, it is in line with other studies that suggested that the effect of music should be further
investigated (Christopher &Shelton, 2017; Fassbender et al., 2012). As music helps to exploit
positive emotions and mood regulation (Sloboda & O’neill, 2001; Saarikallio & Erkkilä, 2007),
it is still a good tool to increase good feelings (Saarikallio, 2007).
Conclusion and Recommendation
Based on the findings of this study we conclude that trying to memorize and recall
rhyming lines of poems while listening to musiclyrical or relaxing music, it does not matter
is less effective than memorizing them without music at all. In other words, without the
distraction of music, students are able to code, memorize, and recall rhyming lines of poems
better.
Furthermore, according to the findings of this study, we also conclude that music is a
distraction to students, making them unable to detect, memorize, and recall the same nonsense
syllables. Although one out of three same nonsense syllables was detected and memorized from
all the students in every group, participants in the no-music group did better in comparison to
other groups.
Music is a good tool to motivate, exploit positive emotion, increase mood and dopamine
in the brain, however, when trying to memorize and recall the numbers, rhyming lines of poems,
and nonsense syllables, better keep the music down. Even though students like to listen to music
while reading, this study suggests keeping the music down if dealing with rhyming lines.
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A B S T R AC T The aim of this study was the exploration and theoretical clarification of the role of music in adolescents' mood regulation. The phenomenon was approached through an inductive theory construction. The data were gathered from eight adolescents by means of group interviews and follow-up forms, and were then analysed using constructive grounded theory methods. The analysis resulted in a theoretical model, which describes mood regulation by music as a process of satisfying personal mood-related goals through various musical activities. The general nature of the mood regulation is described, the goals and strategies of mood regulation are examined, and finally the specific role of music in mood regulation is discussed. K E Y W O R D S : adolescence, emotion regulation, grounded theory, mood, mood regulation, music Aim and approach of the study Affective experiences are shown to be central reasons for music consumption and musical activities (DeNora, 1999; Laiho, 2004; North et al., 2000; Roe, 1985; Sloboda and O'Neill, 2001; Wells and Hakanen, 1991; Zillmann and Gan, 1997). However, the study of emotion has not been central to music psychology. Despite the recent growth of interest in the area, our under-standing of the psychological functions of the emotional experiences of music is still conceptually diverse and theoretically unstructured. Researchers have engaged in investigating emotional functions of music in everyday life but there is a serious lack of theoretical grounding of the empirical results. Sloboda and Juslin (2001) argue that theoretical development on emotional experiences of music has been hindered by the complexity of the phe-nomenon, and the reluctance of music psychologists to turn to emotion psychology for theoretical guidance. sempre :
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