5 Amazing Facts About Music and Memory
Originally posted on Getting Jazzed About Music
Music and Memory:
5 Awesome New Psychology Studies
Music has tremendous power over memory. Hearing an old song can take you back decades in the blink of an eye. Psychologists have been fascinated by this connection between music and memory.
Here are five recent psychology studies which demonstrate the intimate link between music and memory.
1. Singing aids language learning
The link between music and memory is so strong that it can help you learn a foreign language.
Research by Ludke et al. (2013) found that people trying to learn Hungarian, a notoriously difficult language, performed much better if they sang the Hungarian phrases rather than just saying them. The researchers think that the melody may provide an extra cue which helps embed the memory.
2. Music helps injured brain remember
People who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as in a car accident, often have problems with memory.
Music is increasingly being tested as a way to help bring back forgotten autobiographical memories.
A recent study had participants who had suffered severe TBIs listening to number-one songs from their lifetimes to see what memories were evoked (Baird & Sampson, 2013).
The memories brought back were mostly of people or a period of their lives and were broadly similar to those evoked by control participants who did not have a TBI.
Compared with using a standardized interview–the Autobiographical Memory Interview–playing number-one hits to people who’d suffered TBIs was more effective in eliciting memories.
3. Widespread brain activation
One of the reasons music may be so powerful is that it activates such large areas of the brain.
A recent brain imaging study found that music activated the auditory, motor and limbic (emotional) regions (Alluri et al., 2013).
The study found that whether their participants were listening to the Beatles or Vivaldi, largely the same areas of the brain were active.
The motor areas process the rhythm, the auditory areas process the sound, while the limbic regions are associated with the emotions (Alluri et al., 2013).
4. Music can take you back two generations
Classic hits can easily take you back to your teens and twenties.
Most people have particularly strong memories of this time in their lives–psychologists have called it the ‘reminiscence bump’.
But, perhaps surprisingly, one study has shown that people also have mini reminiscence bumps for the music their parents listened to, and even for their grandparents’ music (Krumhansl & Zupnick, 2013).
The study’s lead author, Carol Lynne Krumhansl, explained:
“Music transmitted from generation to generation shapes autobiographical memories, preferences, and emotional responses, a phenomenon we call cascading ‘reminiscence bumps’.
“These new findings point to the impact of music in childhood and likely reflect the prevalence of music in the home environment.”
Another study has shown that we don’t even need to hear the tune for the memories to come flooding back–the words are enough (Cady et al., 2008).
For a whole generation, the words “Ice, ice baby”, and for another generation “…living in the gangsta’s paradise” are enough to take them back in time.
5. A unique musical hallucination
The power of music on people’s memory is sometimes frightening.
A recent study from Frontiers in Neurologyreported the case of a woman who, one night, suddenly began to hear music playing in her head, like a sort of internal, unstoppable jukebox (Vitorovic & Biller, 2013). The problem continued for months.
When she hummed the songs to her husband, he recognised some of them, but she herself didn’t know what they were or where they came from.
It seemed the songs were so deeply rooted in her memory that she wasn’t consciously aware she knew them. They only came to the surface during these night-time hallucinations.
She was treated with an anti-seizure medication and her symptoms improved a little.
This is the only known case of this kind of musical hallucination.
The Power of Music – Jack Leroy Tueller
Orphaned at age 5, this WWII veteran, went on to play first chair trumpet at BYU.
This is a remarkable story from Jack’s military experience.
- How to evolve your own musical melodies (newscientist.com)
- Tunes without composers: music naturally evolves on DarwinTunes | Not Exactly Rocket Science (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
How Music Affects the Brain and How You Can Use It to Your Advantage
Reblogged from: Derren Brown Blog
“Music can often make or break a day. It can change your mood, amp you up for exercise, and help you recover from injury. But how does it work exactly, and how can you use it to your advantage?
Recently, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy to help her learn to talk again. The still unproven theory revolves around the idea that music is represented in multiple parts of the brain and therefore accesses deeper pathways between neurons. Music then helps patients connect the stored knowledge of words through songs and helps create the new connections needed for speech. This same idea has been used for stroke victims in the past, and has been referred to as the Kenny Rogers Effect.
You don’t need to have suffer from brain damage to get the benefits though, lets take a look at how music affects the brain in a more casual sense, and how you can use it to enhance your day-to-day.
You might remember reports back in the 1990s that said that studying while listening to Mozart increases the likelihood of performing well on a test, but that has been disproven in some studies, and in turn, studies have shown some music has a negative affect on fact retention if you’re studying numbers or lists. Still, performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and even restore cognitive function. It works for Alzheimer’s patients in the same way it works in everyone else.
When you listen to music you know, it stimulates the hippocampus, which handles long-term storage in the brain. Doing so can also bring out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song. So, even though the Mozart-effect has essentially been disproven, the idea that forming a new memory with music, and then using the same music again later to recall the memory still appears to be a sound idea. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you might have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the thought.”
- Simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory (nextbigfuture.com)
- World Science Festival: Reawakening the Brain through Music (danapress.typepad.com)
- Ancient Music Therapy Revived in Turkish Hospital (greenprophet.com)
- On Music, Dopamine, and Making Sense of Sound (sharpbrains.com)
- Music, a significant invention. (wordscover.me)
- Can Art Heal? (aurablog.org)
- For patients, a little music therapy goes a long way (foxnews.com)
- Music therapy: a key to unlocking the diseased brain. (babyboomersandmore.com)
- Music Therapy Gaining In Treatment for Medical Conditions (fox2now.com)
- How does Music Therapy Affect Our Health (musicnmoods.wordpress.com)
- Thesis Chapter 1 – Music Therapy and the Grief Process (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Music: The Most Powerful Medicine in the World (metalstate.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Forget the Lyrics: Music and Memory (trishadm.wordpress.com)
- Critical Review – Is Music Therapy Useful in Stroke Rehabilitation? (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Game Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Form Memories (escapistmagazine.com)
- Music changes your brain: Listen to a soothing song after an argument? (westallen.typepad.com)
Appalling information about Missouri & Elder Abuse!
I am appalled! Now this explains a little bit more to me why APS allowed my Dad to remain in the home of someone who was reported for neglect / exploitation / fraud etc. 4 times! My father died. I have yet to find a single person in Missouri that cares about elder abuse & guardianship / conservator abuse. Especially in Cedar County, the judges look past the obvious abuse that is taking place in order for the attorneys and public administrators to PROFIT! Something has to be done! signed, Lark E. Kirkwood
Click on this link to be directed to the article: St. Louis Beacon – Missouri official challenges federal report on elder abuse in state
- National Organization to Stop Elder Abuse and Guardianship Abuse (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Elder law awareness: 46-year old Minnesota man commits elder abuse against own 86 year old mother (elder-abuse-cyberray.blogspot.com)
- Experts: More Seniors Being Targeted For Scams (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- National Elder Financial Fraud Hotline To Be Launched By States, Doctors, Leading National Groups (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Has elder abuse or guardianship abuse ever affected you personally? (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Checklist for Elder Abuse (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Elderly Abuse (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- What is a conservatorship? CorruptProbateJudges.com (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
- Written Testimony of Latifa S. Ring (NOTEGA) to the Senate Special Committee on Aging for the record on recent Elder Abuse and Exploitation Hearing (larkkirkwood.wordpress.com)
Alzheimer’s and Music: “Conducting” an Emotional Visit to My Beloved, Demented Romanian Soul Mate
Repost from: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/01/alzheimers-and-music-conducting.html#more
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 2012
After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy.
By Marie Marley
Family caregivers and others caring for those with Alzheimer’s have long known that music is special to these individuals. It won’t stop or slow the progression of their disease, but it can be of significant benefit to them in many other ways.
Music has the power to reach Alzheimer’s patients on a deep level.
Many can sing songs, including most or even all of the lyrics, long after their dementia has progressed beyond the point of recognizing loved ones, dressing themselves, or even remembering what happened five minutes earlier.
Most importantly, however, music can have positive effects on the health and social functioning of Alzheimer’s patients. After listening to music some are clearly more calm, in a better mood and more outgoing than before, which improves the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver.
Finally, music has actually been found to help those with dementia retrieve some memories their caregivers had assumed were lost forever.
My beloved 92-year-old Romanian soul mate, Ed, had been a university professor of French and a classical music lover. He loved orchestral music, especially that of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven.
He hated all forms of vocal music, however, and was always telling me he couldn’t stand to see singers on stage “with the open mouth.” Whenever he said that he opened his mouth wide and grossly mimicked an opera star hitting a really high note. I could never figure out how he thought they were supposed to emit sound without “the open mouth.”
At any rate, he’d always enjoyed watching conductors on TV, especially the flamboyant ones. The wilder they were, the more he loved watching them.
Being a former performer who had spent years playing in orchestras, I had tried to convince him that the flashy ones didn’t necessarily obtain any greater result from the players than the more sedate ones, but he never believed me.
When Ed became demented I was emotionally devastated, as are all caregivers at one point or another. My biggest sorrows was that I couldn’t find ways to have meaningful interactions with him. The worst part of it was that he had lost the ability to talk on the phone – something we’d previously done for hours every day.
In person visits weren’t much better. Although he was capable of light verbal exchanges, he wasn’t able to engage in the lively conversations we’d always had. Mostly he would deliver his two long monologues at every visit. They never varied. It was as though this demented man had actually memorized them.
One long monologue was full of praise about how beautiful I was; the other was about how lucky he was that I was visiting him.
I should have been delighted by all the affection and praise in these two monologues, but unfortunately I wasn’t. At that point I wasn’t able to accept his condition. I wanted to talk with him as we did before he became demented – not be simply talked to by him. Not be presented with the same material he repeated verbatim at every single visit.
I wanted my old Ed back. I wanted back the great man I had loved for over thirty years. The one who had been my rock. The man who had always supported me emotionally. Who had always there for me. The man with whom I talked for hours and with whom I laughed heartily during many of our conversations.
I couldn’t accept this new demented Ed with whom I had difficulty connecting, and who usually didn’t understand what I was telling him on the few occasions when I talked about what was going on in my life.
When I voiced my lament to my friends many of them suggested that I look at old photos with him, watch his favorite TV shows with him, or listen to music with him.
I had always assumed that listening to music with Ed would be boring for both of us, but one day I relented and decided to try it anyway since that particular day I couldn’t seem to reach him at all by any other means.
After trying to converse with him for a while and after listening to his two lovely but boring (to me) lengthy monologues, I put on a CD of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and started it at the last movement.
I was greatly surprised by his reaction. Almost immediately his eyes sparkled, his whole face beamed, he sat up straight, and moved in time with the music. It was a joy to see him come to life like that.
Then, for some reason I can’t explain, I began ‘conducting’ the music and I did it in the style of his previous favorite conductors. I conducted with both hands, arms flying around, sometimes in tandem, other times going in opposite directions. That made him really smile, which made me smile and encouraged me to keep going and become even showier.
I pretended I had a baton in my right hand, and cued each section of the orchestra when it was time for their entrances. My background in music helped me pull off this whole charade in a convincing and entirely accurate manner – not that Ed would have known the difference.
Ed continued smiling broadly and moving perfectly in time with the music, which really impressed me. Typically those days he couldn’t do anything remotely near perfect.
I stretched out both arms and bounced up and down on the balls of my feet when the music was loud, then crouched down and conducted in a tiny circumscribed area using only my right hand when the music was soft.
When the music was the most pianissimo, I put my left index finger up to my lips in a “shh . . .” gesture while my right hand continued conducting in small circles. He laughed out loud at these motions which, again, inspired me to continue.
I constantly shifted my gaze to the section of the orchestra that was playing the most prominent role at a given moment.
After the final chord I made a gigantic melodramatic cut off movement, remained completely immobile for a few seconds, then bowed deeply – first to the right, then center, then left.
Ed, who had been sitting in the rocking chair during this entire theatrical production, looked positively radiant. After my final bow he looked at me and said in a soft and almost reverent tone of voice, “What you did was so beautiful.”
It brought tears to my eyes. How wrong I had been. Listening to music with Ed had been anything but boring. It had opened up a new way of relating that was satisfying to both of us. It had brought him great joy and consequently brought me joy as well.
After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy. I could make him smile and laugh – things he hadn’t done for months.
Seeing his joy became enough for me, and I decided to continue these performances he loved so much. All of this confirmed what I should have realized all along – music can indeed reach demented people on a deep level.
I invite all of you share your own stories about using music with your Alzheimer’s loved ones.
- Alzheimer’s and Music: How a Classical Violinist Brought Great Joy to My Demented Romanian Soul Mate
- Music and Alzheimer’s Disease: Using Music to Engage, Comfort and Bring Joy to Your Loved Ones
Marie Marley, PhD, is a professional medical grant writer who, over the years, acquired a keen understanding of many geriatric topics, including dementia. . In Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy she describes her remarkable 30-year relationship with Edward Theodoru, PhD, a delightfully colorful yet wickedly eccentric Romanian gentleman – the love of her life. Learn more about their story at Come Back Early Today.
More Insight and Advice for Caregivers
- How Alzheimer’s Spreads Throughout the Brain
- Test Your Memory for Alzheimer’s (5 Best Self Assessment Tests)
- What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
- What is Dementia?
- What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- Communicating in Alzheimer’s World
- How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s Disease, and How Understanding This Could Help You
- Learning How to Communicate with Someone Suffering From Alzheimer’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s World — Trying to Reconnect with Someone Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease
- Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Help Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer’s Patients
- About the Alzheimer’s Reading Room
Original content Marie Marley, the Alzheimer’s Reading Room