Music and Memory: An ERP Examination of Music as a Mnemonic Device
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Prior research into music and memory has shown that music can aid in learning educational content (Calvert & Tart, 1993; Fassbender, Richards, Bilgin, Thompson, & Heiden, 2012), and it can be used in populations with Alzheimer’s disease to enable learning (Deason, Simmons-Stern, Frustace, Ally, & Budson, 2012; Simmons-Stern, Budson, & Ally, 2010; Simmons-Stern, et al., 2012). However, there is little research into the neural correlates associated with this relationship. The current experiment used both behavioral and electrophysiological measures to further examine the efficacy of music as a mnemonic device. Stimuli consisted of a set of lyrics, either spoken or sung, associated with a single word. Participants were asked to listen to these lyrics and then asked whether or not they recognize the associated word during the test phase. Electroencephalographic (EEG) data was collected during this process and analyzed using event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine components associated with recognition memory and their relation to the benefit of music to memory. The behavioral results revealed no significant effect of encoding condition on memory, with the sung and spoken condition having similar results. There was a marginal increase in amplitude in the old/new ERP effect related to the late positive component for the sung condition compared to the spoken condition. These findings provide more insight into the use of music as a mnemonic device.