What causes an inability to recall a melody, beat, or music?

What causes an inability to recall a melody, beat, or music?

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Background: I have never been able to recall melodies to songs. I can play a song over and over again but the moment it stops, I cannot remember what it sounds like. I am referring to the music/beat/melody and not the lyrics. Even when I memorize the lyrics and try to sing a song out loud or even in my head, I simply cannot recall the music.

I like Adele but as I type this, I have no idea what her songs sound like. If I play one of her songs, I will recognize it. So it is not as if I have lost all memory of the song.

Over the years I have come up with certain tricks to remember some very rudimentary melodies. I know what Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the happy birthday song, Jingle Bells sound like but it took work. For Jingle Bells, I would knock on a table as it played. And I was able to get the rhythm. The lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle and the birthday song flow like a poem and so the melody strives from that (at least that's how it seems to me).

Even though I have no idea what my favorite songs sound like, I do know what emotions they evoke. When songs move me, it is as if something flows in me. I have heard stories from my mom about how I used to close my eyes and sway when listening to music. I learned not to do that in public after the teasing at school :)

I have tried to research this on my own and have come up with nothing. Any insight is greatly appreciated.


What causes an inability (or difficulty) to recall a melody, music, or beat?

The following answer is based on my own experience learning music combined with general principles of cognitive psychology related to skill acquisition.

I think that learning music would help a person recall a melody, a beat, and music in general. Formal training would be particularly helpful, but informal training would also often have a similar result.

In particular, learning music teaches you how music is structured. This training teaches you a whole range of skills. You learn to isolate instruments. You learn about the structure of songs (e.g., bars, beats, sections, repetition). You learn about melody (e.g., scales, intervals, chords, progressions, etc.). You learn about rhythm. There is a theoretical aspect to this knowledge whereby you conceptually understand the ideas. However, there is also a large procedural component whereby you train your ear to identify different sequences, and you also learn to produce such sequences with a suitable instrument.

Learning to sing can be particularly helpful in training your ability to reproduce melody without the song present. Singing trains you to be able to reproduce intervals, scales, and so on without an external source.

All this declarative and procedural knowledge of music simplifies and enables the mental recall of music. For example, instead of seeing a pop-song as a 3 minute stream of sound, You start to see the simplicity of for example, 3 chords, and 2 major melodic elements. You see the similarities with other songs in terms of the chord progressions, scales, and rhythm. It's similar to the way that language becomes simpler once you appreciate the basic principles of vocabulary and grammar.

Beyond musical skill, actual repetition and spending time seriously thinking about the song should also help in the recall a that specific song.

Inside the Heads of People Who Don't Like Music

For those who experience “musical anhedonia,” listening to a song is halfway between boring and distracting—and their brain activity reflects that.

Allison Sheridan couldn’t care less about music. Songs of love and heartbreak don’t bring her to tears, complex classical compositions don’t amaze her, peppy beats don’t make her want to dance. For Sheridan, a retired engineer, now a podcaster, who owns 12 vinyl records and hasn’t programed the radio stations in her car, “music sits in an odd spot halfway between boring and distracting.”

Despite coming from a tremendously musical family, Sheridan is part of the roughly 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population that has an apathy toward music. It’s what’s referred to as specific musical anhedonia—different from general anhedonia, which is the inability to feel any kind of pleasure and which is often associated with depression. In fact, there’s nothing inherently wrong with musical anhedonics their indifference to music isn’t a source of depression or suffering of any kind, although Sheridan notes, “The only suffering is being mocked by other people, because they don’t understand it. Everybody loves music, right?”

Previous research shows that the vast majority of people who enjoy music show an increase in heart rate or skin conductance—where a person’s skin temporarily becomes a conductor of electricity in response to something they find stimulating. Musical anhedonics, however, show no such physiological change to music. A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, took those findings a step further by studying neural responses to music.

As part of the study, 45 students from the University of Barcelona (where most of the study authors are based) were asked to fill out a questionnaire that helped determine their sensitivity to musical reward. Based on their responses, they were divided into groups of three—people who don’t care for music at all, those who have some interest in music, and those who essentially live and breathe music. The researchers then had them listen to music while measuring their brain activity with an fMRI machine.

For people who enjoy music, activity in the brain’s auditory and reward regions is closely coupled and, for them, hearing a song resulted in joy and pleasure. But, in the brains of people with specific musical anhedonia, researchers found that the auditory and reward regions of the brain simply didn’t interact in response to music. As a control, to make sure that musical anhedonics responded to other stimuli, researchers also had participants play a gambling game and found that winning money activated the brain’s reward system just fine.

Meanwhile, in the brains of hyper-hedonics—people on the other end of the musical spectrum—researchers saw the strongest transfer of information between the auditory and reward parts of the brain. “It shows that the experience that you have for music is linked to this type of neural response pattern—the more you have it, the more interaction there is between those two systems, the more you are likely to feel pleasure to music,” says Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal and one of the authors of the study. “These are people who say life would be unimaginable without music.”

Sitting at that musically inclined end is Paul Silvia, who is often immersed in post-rock, shoegazer rock, electronic, or jazz music. “I hear music in my mind a lot, and I can get chills from this imagined music,” says Silvia, a psychology professor at the University of Carolina at Greensboro, who experiences chills in response to music several times a day. In fact, it was this response that got Silvia to begin studying chills almost a decade ago.

“Chills are fascinating,” says Silvia, because “there’s a difference between some song you like coming on the radio and emotions from music that are deep.” It’s that feeling of wanting to cry when you hear a particularly moving piece or feeling your heart soar as notes get larger and more grandiose. “It seems to be part of this whole cluster of feelings that people find very hard to have words for,” Silvia says.

As part of his research, Silvia found that some people were more prone to get chills and experience goosebumps when listening to music, and those people also tended to be more open to new experiences. “People with high openness to experience are much more creative and imaginative, and they get these kinds of awe-style experiences so much more often,” Silvia says. “They’re much more likely to play an instrument, they go to concerts, they listen to a wider range of music, they listen to more uncommon music. They just get more out of music.”

These kinds of findings can help researchers further explore different pathways to the reward system. “Just as with musical anhedonia, where people respond to everything except music, there are some people who don’t respond to anything except music,” says Zatorre. “Maybe they can learn to activate the reward system through music,” he says. “And if they can do that, maybe they can transfer that knowledge to a different domain, whether it’s control over their reward system, control over their mood state, or control over their pleasure response.”

Zatorre says his findings have also helped musical anhedonics get well-meaning friends and family off their back. “People came to me saying, ‘I’m glad you’ve given us scientific proof, because now I can tell my friends to stop bugging me about music. It doesn’t do anything for me.’”

How The Brain Teases Apart A Song's Words And Music

Your brain uses the left side to make sense of lyrics and the right side for a song's melody.

Christoph Hetzmannseder/Getty Images

A song fuses words and music. Yet the human brain can instantly separate a song's lyrics from its melody.

And now scientists think they know how this happens.

A team led by researchers at McGill University reported in Science Thursday that song sounds are processed simultaneously by two separate brain areas – one in the left hemisphere and one in the right.

"On the left side you can decode the speech content but not the melodic content, and on the right side you can decode the melodic content but not the speech content," says Robert Zatorre, a professor at McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute.

The finding explains something doctors have observed in stroke patients for decades, says Daniela Sammler, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Cognition and Neurosciences in Leipzig, Germany, who was not involved in the study.

"If you have a stroke in the left hemisphere you are much more likely to have a language impairment than if you have a stroke in the right hemisphere," Sammler says. Moreover, brain damage to certain areas of the right hemisphere can affect a person's ability to perceive music.

The study was inspired by songbirds, Zatorre says.

Studies show that their brains decode sounds using two separate measures. One assesses how quickly a sound fluctuates over time. The other detects the frequencies in a sound.

"We thought, hey, maybe that's what the human brain does too," Zatorre says.

To find out, the team got help from a composer and a soprano. And they created lots of a cappella songs that were just a few seconds long.

Then the team used a computer to alter the recordings. Sometimes they removed information about sound frequencies, which produced a breathy voice a bit like Darth Vader's.

"The speech is perfectly comprehensible, but all the melody is essentially gone," Zatorre says.

Other songs were altered to remove information about how the sound changed over time. That sounds a bit like someone humming a sentence rather than singing the words.

"You can still perceive the melody but you can no longer tell what the speech is," Zatorre says.

Armed with hundreds of altered song fragments, recorded in both English and French, the team set out to learn how a human brain would process these sounds.

The scientists played them for 49 people while an fMRI scanner monitored brain activity. And it turned out that the people decoded sounds the same way songbirds do, by separating a sound's time-related elements from the frequencies it contains, and processing the information using two different groups of specialized brain cells.

As a result, when we hear a song, it engages both hemispheres of the brain in a way that's different than either speech or music alone, Zatorre says.

"That might be why [songs are] especially prominent and especially meaningful" in cultures around the globe, Zatorre says.

But it's not just songs that require both hemispheres working together, Sammler says. That process is necessary to fully experience any type of sound.

Also, the brain circuits involved probably existed before human language appeared, Sammer says.

"Charles Darwin said the languages that we use today emerged from something that was a song-like proto-language," she says.

Now that there's good evidence a song takes two separate paths through the brain, researchers will need to figure out how the brain combines those twin streams of information into a coherent listening experience, Sammler says.

"We perceive the song as a song, right?" she says. "It's one thing and it's not like a speech stream or a melody stream."

4 thoughts on &ldquo Why can we remember song lyrics so easily? &rdquo

As kids and especially as college students we can all relate to this. So many times I just find a song stuck in my head at the most random of moments. Learning the science behind why this happens is actually quite interesting. It now makes sense to me and I will have an answer next time the person I’m sitting next to in a lecture hall asks me why I’m singing soulja boi in the middle of an exam. The link below is shares another reason why we remember song lyrics so well. This theory states, along with agreeing to the one proposed in the blog is that we remember song lyrics because of the way tone changes in it. “Alliteration, assonance, repetition and rhyme” all contribute to why we remember songs over books. Books we usually read in a monotone voice which has none of what is mentioned above. The afore mentioned literary tools really help seal in song lyrics to our memories.

This is a great post! It makes so much sense. For me specifically, I always had a hard time learning things from my history classes in high school. What I would do, strategically, is to make songs out of different lessons and they helped me memorize things in that class. The thing about music is that it’s so catchy, which is why everyone memorizes lyrics so easily. Unfortunately, the Teapot Dome Scandal is not a very catchy part in history…

I think this is a great topic because so many of us understand exactly what you are talking about. If I was tested on song lyrics instead of the quadratic equation, my grade would improve greatly! What I found interesting on this topic was that music has actually helped many people who face dementia. People with dementia can go through what its called “music therapy” and it help them communicate with therapists and family members. Some songs and sounds can jog the memories of the patients. So music isn’t just having an effect on students but the elderly as well! Here is an article that discusses how music helps dementia patients!


As we have discussed in our introduction, both the interference-by-process view (Jones & Tremblay, 2000 ) and the processing disfluency view (Mehta et al., 2012 ) eschew the role of mood and arousal in mediating the effect of background sound on creative task performance. However, there is a compelling literature showing that increased mood and arousal that derives from listening to music may affect cognitive task performance. For example, Thompson et al. ( 2001 ) demonstrated a benefit to subsequent visuo-spatial task performance from prior listening to music as compared with exposure to quiet that was entirely dependent on the change in mood and arousal that the music produced. Furthermore, Ritter and Ferguson ( 2017 ) reported that music presented 15 s prior to, and concurrently with, the performance of a task that involved creative verbal cognition facilitated performance on that task. However, this facilitatory effect occurred only for “happy” music that engendered positive affect and increased arousal. The relationship between happy music and increased arousal is usually attributed to the music's higher tempo (Vieillard et al., 2008 ). Moreover, music that is rated as being “liked” is typically “happy” music (Husain, Thompson, & Schellenberg, 2002 ). Therefore, it remains possible that given the pleasure that individuals usually derive from music, the music one choses to listen to might typically induce a positive mood and increased arousal, thereby yielding a positive impact on task performance (Thompson et al., 2001 ), particularly for tasks that involve creativity (Ritter & Ferguson, 2017 ). Indeed, previous research has established that positive mood can improve performance on RATs (Rowe, Hirsh, & Anderson, 2007 ). In both Experiments 1 and 2, our use of arbitrary music with foreign or “unfamiliar” lyrics, and music with the absence of lyrics, could have induced a neutral or even negative mood state in participants, which might have hindered the emergence of creative insight.

To investigate any potential mediating impact of mood on CRAT performance in Experiment 3, participants tackled CRAT problems in the presence of music with positive lyrics and fast tempo (approximately 160 beats per minute), which we considered should increase positive affect and arousal. Indeed, research has identified that happy music typically has a tempo of around 150 beats per minute thus, our musical condition exceeds this figure (Khalfa, Roy, Rainville, Dalla Bella, & Peretz, 2008 ). Furthermore, “happy” music is known to increase arousal (e.g., Salimpoor, Benovoy, Longo, Cooperstock, & Zatorre, 2009 ). To identify support for the assertion that music with a fast tempo is perceived as “happy,” we measured mood states at two different time points (i.e., before and after each background sound condition) using the Profile of Mood States (PoMS) questionnaire (McNair, 1971 ). In Experiment 3, we also acquired data relating to participants' musical preferences (i.e., whether they liked or disliked the presented background sound) and their study habits (i.e., whether they tend to study with music or without background music). These data were intended to be peripheral to the main findings, but they nevertheless had the capacity to provide an indication of whether the impact of mood on CRAT performance is influenced by either musical preference or study habits.

We also note that in explaining the findings arising in Experiments 1 and 2, yet another possibility is that the promotion of creativity through processing disfluency in the presence of background noise (Mehta et al., 2012 ) is a specific effect that is limited to the presence of relatively “steady-state” sound, unlike the background music used in our conditions, which clearly satisfied the criteria for “changing-state” sound. Therefore, in Experiment 3, we included a “library noise” condition, which resembled that used by Mehta and colleagues (Mehta et al., 2012 ). We contrasted this library noise condition with a music condition (i.e., popular music with familiar lyrics) and with a quiet condition.

In terms of the outcomes of Experiment 3, if the mood and arousal account (Ritter & Ferguson, 2017 Thompson et al., 2001 ) is correct, then we expected to observe an increase in CRAT performance in the background music condition compared with the quiet and library noise conditions, assuming that the music condition reliably increases mood and arousal compared with the library noise condition. We note here that studies exploring the mood and arousal effect usually present music prior to, rather than concurrently with, the cognitive task of interest and typically study the effects of these music stimuli on visuo-spatial performance such as mental rotation (Thompson et al., 2001 ). However, effects of music on creative task performance that are reportedly mediated through mood and arousal have also been shown when music is presented concurrently with the target task in the context of a verbally-based creative task (Ritter & Ferguson, 2017 ). Moreover, participants within mood and arousal studies are free to attend to the music, rather than instructed to ignore the background sound, as is the case with studies of the irrelevant sound effect (Jones & Macken, 1993 ). We make the assumption, however, that changes to mood and arousal induced by the presentation of music occurs regardless of whether participants are free to attend the music or requested to ignore it and explore this proposition.

The processing disfluency account (Mehta et al., 2012 ) would predict that both library noise and music conditions should increase CRAT performance, whereas the modified processing disfluency account only predicts a positive effect of background library noise on CRAT performance. Finally, the interference-by-process view (e.g., Jones & Tremblay, 2000 ) predicts that CRAT performance should be reduced in the music condition relative to the library noise and quiet conditions because the music condition comprises a changing-state auditory stimulus, whereas the library noise condition constitutes a steady-state stimulus.

3.1 Method

3.1.1 Participants

Thirty-six adults (23 female and 13 male) from the University of Central Lancashire aged between 19 and 56 years old participated in the experiment (M = 24 years, SD = 8.36). The participants were recruited via an opportunity sample. Participants received course credit, or the standard department payment rate in exchange for 30 min of participation. All participants spoke English as their first language and reported normal (or corrected-to-normal) vision and hearing.

3.1.2 Design

In relation to the assessment of CRAT performance, the design was a 3 (Sound: Quiet vs. Music vs. Library Noise) × 2 (CRAT Difficulty: Easy vs. Difficult) × 2 (Study Habit: Music vs. No Music) mixed design. For the purpose of mood evaluation, the following within-participants design was used to determine mood changes using the PoMs questionnaire: 3 (Sound: Quiet vs. Music vs. Library Noise) × 2 (Time: Before vs. After) × 6 (Mood State: Tension vs. Depression vs. Anger vs. Confusion vs. Fatigue vs. Vigour). The music chosen for the background sound was a popular 2013 mid-tempo soul and neo-soul song that contained positive lyrics and had an upbeat melody. The library noise consisted of distant (nonintelligible) speech, photocopier noise, typing, and rustling of papers.

3.1.3 Materials

Before undertaking the CRATs, participants were asked: “Do you ordinarily study in the presence of background music?” and responded yes or no. The PoMS questionnaire is designed to measure fluctuating feelings and affective states (for further details, see McNair, 1971 ). The questionnaire measures six different aspects of mood state: tension, depression, anger, confusion, fatigue, and vigour. According to instructions of administration, the six mood states can be combined in the following way to produce a Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) score: tension + depression + anger + confusion + fatigue − vigour. However, for the purposes of this design, we were interested in the specific mood profile, and therefore, the six specific profile scores were used rather than a general TMD measure (McNair, 1971 ).

Using the norming data on solution rate and solution time for 30-s presentation time, an additional set of 19 CRAT problems (10 easy and nine difficult) matching accuracy and solution times to Sets A and B was selected using the program “Match” (Van Casteren & Davis, 2007 ) to create Set C (solution accuracy M = 47.9%, SD = 25.7, solution times: M = 9.6 s, SD = 3.3). The experiment was fully counterbalanced such that each CRAT set appeared within each sound condition. After undertaking the CRATs, participants were asked: “Did you like the music?” and responded yes or no.

3.2 Results

Like Experiments 1 and 2, the dependent variable was the mean solution rate for the CRAT problems. As mentioned in the foregoing, Experiment 3 included a number of further dependent variables. These were responses to the PoMS questionnaires administered before and after the completion of each set of CRATs. The PoMS contains measures of six mood states: tension, depression, anger, confusion, fatigue, and vigour. There was also a brief questionnaire related to musical preference (whether participants liked the music played during the music condition) and study habits (whether they regularly listened to music when studying). Twenty-nine participants responded that they liked the music and seven responded that they disliked the music, indicating that the vast majority of participants found the music appealing. Furthermore, 18 participants responded that they ordinarily studied in the presence of music, whereas 18 preferred to study without the presence of music. Participants were assigned to Music vs. No Music for Study Habit, accordingly. An alpha level of p < 0.05 was adopted for all statistical tests used.

3.2.1 Solution rates

The descriptive data for solution rates (see Figure 1) suggested that CRATs were more likely to be solved in the quiet and library noise conditions, in comparison with the music condition. However, there appeared to be no difference in the number of CRATs solved between the quiet and library noise conditions. Easy CRATs also seemed to be solved more readily than difficult CRATs. To examine these apparent effects further, a 3 (Sound: Quiet vs. Music vs. Library Noise) × 2 (CRAT Difficulty: Easy vs. Difficult) × 2 (Study Habit: Music vs. No Music) mixed ANOVA was conducted on the solution rate data. There was a significant main effect of Sound on solution rates, F(2, 68) = 7.08, MSE = 0.07, p = 0.002, ηp 2 = 0.12. Pairwise comparisons revealed that significantly more CRATs were solved in the Quiet condition (M = 0.34, SE = 0.05) in comparison with the Music condition (M = 0.30, SE = 0.04, p = 0.002). There were also significantly more CRATs solved in the Library Noise condition (M = 0.37, SE = 0.04, p = 0.003) in comparison with the Music condition. However, there was no significant difference between the mean number of CRATs solved in the Quiet and Library Noise conditions (p = 0.70).

As expected, there was a significant main effect of CRAT difficulty on solution rates, F(1, 34) = 218.13.75, MSE = 0.02, p < 0.001, ηp 2 = 0.87, with significantly more easy CRATs solved (M = 0.48, SE = 0.04) than difficult CRATs (M = 0.19, SE = 0.04). There was also no significant main effect of Study Habit on CRAT solution times, F(1, 32) = 0.01, MSE = 0.26, p = 0.93, ηp 2 = 0.000. Participants who specified that they preferred to study without music (M = 0.34, SE = 0.05) did not solve significantly more CRATs than those who specified that they preferred to study with music (M = 0.34, SE = 0.05). The remaining interactions and three-way interactions all failed to reach significance (all ps > 0.05).

3.2.2 PoMs questionnaire

To ascertain any changes in mood before and after completing the CRATs in each sound condition, a PoMS questionnaire was administered to participants at two different points (before and after completing the CRATs in each of the three sound conditions). Therefore, each participant completed the PoMS questionnaire a total of six times. A 3 (Sound: Quiet vs. Music vs. Library Noise) × 2 (Time: Before vs. After) × 6 (Mood State: Tension vs. Depression vs. Anger vs. Confusion vs. Fatigue vs. Vigour) within-participants ANOVA was conducted on the mood state scores. The ANOVA revealed that there was no significant main effect of Sound, F(2, 70) = 1.66, MSE = 0.20, p = 0.20, ηp 2 = 0.05, with no significant difference in the mean mood state score in the Quiet (M = 5.89, SE = 0.54), Music (M = 5.65, SE = 0.58), and Library Noise (M = 6.10, SE = 0.54) conditions. There was a main effect of Time, F(1, 35) = 6.10, MSE = 9.98, p = 0.02, ηp 2 = 0.15, with mean mood state scores significantly higher Before (M = 6.10, SE = 0.58) in comparison with After (M = 5.66, SE = 0.49) completing the CRATs. There was a significant main effect of Mood, F(5, 175) = 28.17, MSE = 80.60, p < 0.001, ηp 2 = 0.45. Pairwise comparisons indicated that there were significant differences between all mood states with the exception of tension (M = 5.05, SE = 0.67) versus fatigue (M = 5.13, SE = 0.78), depression (M = 2.86, SE = 0.87) versus anger (M = 5.13, SE = 0.78), anger versus fatigue, and fatigue versus vigour (M = 11.96, SE = 0.91 all ps > 0.05). There was no significant Sound × Time interaction, F(2, 70) = 2.43, MSE = 11.88, p = 0.10, ηp 2 = 0.07, Sound × Mood interaction, F(10, 350) = 1.42, MSE = 8.25, p = 0.10, ηp 2 = 0.07, or Time × Mood interaction, F(5, 175) = 0.48, MSE = 5.18, p = 0.79, ηp 2 = 0.01.

As expected, there was a significant three-way Sound × Time × Mood interaction, F(10, 350) = 3.50, MSE = 5.846, p < 0.001, ηp 2 = 0.09. Pairwise comparisons indicated the source of this significant interaction. For the Quiet condition, there was no significant change in any of the mood states after completing the CRATs (all ps > 0.05). However, for the Music condition, there was a significant change in mood for four out of the six mood states. There was a significant decrease in tension (M = 5.36, SE = 0.82 vs. M = 4.00, SE = 0.69, p = 0.01), anger (M = 4.08, SE = 1.04 vs. M = 2.72, SE = 0.69, p = 0.049), confusion (M = 6.92, SE = 0.75 vs. M = 5.69, SE = 0.59, p = 0.02), and fatigue (M = 4.81, SE = 0.87 vs. M = 3.72, SE = 0.80, p = 0.03). There was no significant change in depression (M = 3.25, SE = 1.23 vs. M = 2.61, SE = 0.98, p = 0.33) or vigour (M = 11.86, SE = 0.97 vs. M = 12.72, SE = 1.13, p = 0.22). For the Library Noise condition, there was no significant change in five of the six mood states (all ps > 0.05). However, there was a significant decrease in vigour (M = 12.67, SE = 1.08 vs. M = 10.67, SE = 0.94, p < 0.001).

These findings indicate that the significant changes in mood states before and after completing CRATs occurred within the Music condition and not in the Quiet or Library Noise condition, thus indicating that music altered a number of mood states, and as measured by the PoMS, provided a general increase in positive mood. Since previous research (Rowe et al., 2007 ) has shown that positive mood can improve performance on RATs, the present observation that music increased mood but decreased CRAT performance suggests that a mood-based explanation of the detrimental effect of music on creative insight seems implausible.

3.2.3 PoMs and solution rates

In the previous section, the PoMS scores and CRAT solution rates were examined independently. However, it is useful to consider the possible impact of mood as a mediating influence on the relationship between to-be-ignored background sound and CRAT performance. Unfortunately, the current dataset is unsuitable for mediation analysis (i.e., to ascertain mood as a possible direct or indirect mediator in the relationship between background sound and CRAT performance) given the implementation of Sound as a within-participants factor rather than a between-participants factor. However, an analysis of covariance was performed to examine CRAT solution rates when mood score was included as a covariate. Here, we focused on the relationship between the quiet and music conditions, given our particular interest in the disruption caused by to-be-ignored background music.

In order to establish the mood score for entry as a covariate, the “before” score for each of the six mood score dimensions (tension, depression, anger, confusion, fatigue, and vigour) was subtracted from the “after” score to provide a “mood change” score for each of the six profile of mood state dimensions listed above. This resulted in a mood state dimension change score for both the music and quiet conditions, for each mood state (tension, depression, anger, confusion, anger, and vigour). The change score for the music condition was subtracted from the change score for the quiet condition, to provide a single change score for each of the six mood states. A 2 × 2 analysis of covariance was conducted (Sound: Quiet vs. Music) × 2 (CRAT Difficulty: Easy vs. Difficult) on solution rates, with tension, depression, anger, confusion, fatigue, and vigour each entered as a covariate. The findings revealed that all covariates failed to reach significance (all ps > 0.05), indicating that each of the six mood state measures failed to have a significant impact on CRAT solution rates, either directly or in interaction with the Sound and CRAT Difficulty factors.

3.3 Discussion

Experiment 3 demonstrated that popular music with familiar lyrics disrupted CRAT performance (in terms of solution rates) in comparison with a quiet condition or library noise condition. However, there was no significant difference in CRAT performance between the quiet and library noise conditions. Mehta et al. ( 2012 ) previously demonstrated a beneficial effect to creativity with what could be termed “steady-state sound.” Although these findings demonstrate that a steady-state sound such as library noise does not result in a relative enhancement to creativity, we also find that the decrement was not significant, particularly in comparison with the background music with familiar lyrics.

Furthermore, the findings imply that music with familiar lyrics resulted in a decrement in CRAT performance, despite an apparent overall positive increase in mood as identified by six mood states recognised in the PoMS. Given that previous research has identified that positive mood can lead to an improvement in RAT scores (Rowe et al., 2007 ), the findings here demonstrate that the decrement in performance in the music condition does not appear to be driven by mood. Indeed, these findings further support the notion that CRAT performance relies on verbal working memory, and that this is susceptible to disruption by nonsteady-state sound, with or without the presence of speech.

Cerebral Cortex Lobes

The cerebral cortex is the thin layer of tissue that covers the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the largest component of the brain and is divided into two hemispheres with each hemisphere being divided into four lobes. Each brain lobe has a specific function. Functions of the cerebral cortex lobes involve everything from interpreting and processing sensory information to decision-making and problem-solving capabilities. In addition to the parietal lobes, the lobes of the brain consist of the frontal lobes, temporal lobes, and occipital lobes. The frontal lobes are involved in reasoning and the expression of personality. The temporal lobes assist in organizing sensory input and memory formation. The occipital lobes are involved in visual processing.

Effects of Music on the Mental State

Fights Depression

Feeling depressed, gloomy or inadequate? Soothing music can help you. Depression reduces brain activity and hampers the mind’s ability to plan and carry out tasks. Lack of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, results in a depressed state of mind. Soothing musical notes help increase the Serotonin levels of the brain, thus alleviating mental depression. Natural musical notes are known to make the mind alert.

Relieves Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uncertainty that clouds your mind and the feeling is mostly about an upcoming event having an unknown outcome. The result is what you are afraid of or worried about. Increased anxiety levels and stress lead to sleeplessness. Prolonged periods of anxiety may even lead to anxiety disorders. But music can come to rescue. It calms the body nerves and soothes the mind. Flat musical notes induce sleep.

Improves Learning Abilities

Music affects the process of learning and thinking. Listening to quiet and soothing music while working helps you work faster and in a more efficient way. Music has the ability to make you positive and feel motivated. Research has shown that music brings about remarkable improvements in the academic skills of students, who are made to listen to certain kinds of music while studying or working in the lab. Listening to pleasant music, while doing a difficult task, can make it seem easier.

Boosts Confidence

Music has a positive effect on the interpersonal skills of an individual. Lack of confidence and very less or no desire to learn is most often the reason behind a failure. It’s not always inability. Students obtaining poor school grades do not necessarily lack intelligence. It’s their disinterest in the subjects or the lack of motivation that leads to poor academic performance. Music lessons during school can help the students fight their mental block. Music proves helpful in encouraging young children to venture new fields. It increases their capacity to believe in themselves, that is, in boosting confidence.

6 thoughts on &ldquo Can music trigger certain memories? &rdquo

This is probably one of my favorites to read because music means so much to me. Certain songs can take me back to a time in my life when everything was going great, or a particular moment when I felt overjoyed. In the same sense, music can also take me back to some of the saddest times in my life, and everyone has a song that can remind them of an ex or a past relationship. I would have loved to see a brain scan or something that showed what parts of the brain light up when certain songs come on. Great job!

This reminds me of the concept of conditioning, a concept first demonstrated by Pavlov and his dog. Pavlov would ring a bell everytime before feeding his dog, and therefore, after a while, when Pavlov would ring the same bell, his dog would salivate, thinking there would be food, because its mind has instinctively associated the bell with food.

This has implications that even reaches students. There have been studies done where participants seem to recall information better if they are asked to recall information in the same place. For example, if students always studied in a classroom, and took an exam in the same classroom, chances are they would do better on the exam.

After I read this article, I was pretty convinced music does trigger neurons in your brain. I find it really cool how an injured brain almost worked just as well as a regular brain when listening to music. That could open a whole new door on how to treat brain injuries with music. I believe that music does trigger memories because of how neurons react when they hear the music. Really interesting article, thanks for sharing.

Great article! it takes me back to my psychology class in high school. But this is all psychology. I found a article that talks more about the new psychology studies between music and memory:

This article sparked an interest in me because I definitely can recall countless times where a song comes on my iPod and I can vividly remember a moment in my life that I always think of when I hear a specific song.

This post was interesting to me because I always associate music with certain places or times and never knew how that was possible. I could hear a certain song on the radio and think of a memory from years ago. This association between music and memories makes it very possible for emotions to resurface and now I know it’s due to the human neuron system. Another association that happens a lot to me is between smell and memoires. Here’s a link why that happens.

What causes an inability to recall a melody, beat, or music? - Psychology

"Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired" (Boethius cited by Storr).

M usic's interconnection with society can be seen throughout history. Every known culture on the earth has music. Music seems to be one of the basic actions of humans. However, early music was not handed down from generation to generation or recorded. Hence, there is no official record of "prehistoric" music. Even so, there is evidence of prehistoric music from the findings of flutes carved from bones.

The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper.

Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men who has ever lived. A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could. His mother did not think that Albert was "stupid". Instead of following the school's advice, Albert's parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived. Einstein himself says that the reason he was so smart is because he played the violin. He loved the music of Mozart and Bach the most. A friend of Einstein, G.J. Withrow, said that the way Einstein figured out his problems and equations was by improvising on the violin.

Bodily Responses to Music

People perceive and respond to music in different ways. The level of musicianship of the performer and the listener as well as the manner in which a piece is performed affects the "experience" of music. An experienced and accomplished musician might hear and feel a piece of music in a totally different way than a non-musician or beginner. This is why two accounts of the same piece of music can contradict themselves.

Rhythm is also an important aspect of music to study when looking at responses to music. There are two responses to rhythm. These responses are hard to separate because they are related, and one of these responses cannot exist without the other. These responses are (1) the actual hearing of the rhythm and (2) the physical response to the rhythm. Rhythm organizes physical movements and is very much related to the human body. For example, the body contains rhythms in the heartbeat, while walking, during breathing, etc. Another example of how rhythm orders movement is an autistic boy who could not tie his shoes. He learned how on the second try when the task of tying his shoes was put to a song. The rhythm helped organize his physical movements in time.

It cannot be proven that two people can feel the exact same thing from hearing a piece of music. For example, early missionaries to Africa thought that the nationals had bad rhythm. The missionaries said that when the nationals played on their drums it sounded like they were not beating in time. However, it was later discovered that the nationals were beating out complex polyrhythmic beats such as 2 against 3, 3 against 4, and 2 against 3 and 5, etc. These beats were too advanced for the missionaries to follow.

Responses to music are easy to be detected in the human body. Classical music from the baroque period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music. As the body becomes relaxed and alert, the mind is able to concentrate more easily. Furthermore, baroque music decreases blood pressure and enhances the ability to learn. Music affects the amplitude and frequency of brain waves, which can be measured by an electro-encephalogram. Music also affects breathing rate and electrical resistance of the skin. It has been observed to cause the pupils to dilate, increase blood pressure, and increase the heart rate.

The Power of Music on Memory and Learning

According to The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, learning potential can be increased a minimum of five times by using this 60 beats per minute music. For example, the ancient Greeks sang their dramas because they understood how music could help them remember more easily ). A renowned Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time. Using his system, students could learn up to one half of the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term (which amounts to almost 1,000 words or phrases) in one day. Along with this, the average retention rate of his students was 92%. Dr. Lozanov's system involved using certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which have around a 60 beats per minute pattern. He has proven that foreign languages can be learned with 85-100% efficiency in only thirty days by using these baroque pieces. His students had a recall accuracy rate of almost 100% even after not reviewing the material for four years.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Georg Frederic Handel

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In 1982, researchers from the University of North Texas performed a three-way test on postgraduate students to see if music could help in memorizing vocabulary words. The students were divided into three groups. Each group was given three tests - a pretest, a posttest, and a test a week after the first two tests. All of the tests were identical. Group 1 was read the words with Handel's Water Music in the background. They were also asked to imagine the words. Group 2 was read the same words also with Handel's Water Music in the background. Group 2 was not asked to imagine the words. Group 3 was only read the words, was not given any background music, and was also not asked to imagine the words. The results from the first two tests showed that groups 1 and 2 had much better scores than group 3. The results from the third test, a week later, showed that group 1 performed much better than groups 2 or 3. However, simply using music while learning does not absolutely guarantee recall but can possibly improve it. Background music in itself is not a part of the learning process, but it does enter into memory along with the information learned. Recall is better when the same music used for learning is used during recall. Also, tempo appears to be a key of music's effect on memory.

Play Handel's Water Music (Morning Has Broken)

One simple way students can improve test scores is by listening to certain types of music such as Mozart's Sonata for Two Piano's in D Major before taking a test. This type of music releases neurons in the brain which help the body to relax. The effectiveness of Mozart's sonatas can be seen by the results from an IQ test performed on three groups of college students. The first group listened to a Mozart sonata before taking the test. The second group listened to a relaxation tape before their test. The third group did not listen to anything before the test. The first group had the highest score with an average of 119. The second group ended up with an average of 111, and the third group had the lowest score with an average of 110.

William Balach, Kelly Bowman, and Lauri Mohler, all from Pennsylvania State University, studied the effects of music genre and tempo on memory retention. They had four groups learn vocabulary words using one of four instrumental pieces - slow classical, slow jazz, fast classical, and fast jazz. Each of the four groups was divided into smaller groups for the recall test. These sub groups used either the same (i.e. slow classical, slow classical) or different (i.e. slow jazz, fast classical) pieces when taking the recall test. The results did show a dependency on the music. Recall was better when the music was the same during learning and testing. These same researchers did another test which restricted the changes in the music to just tempo (i.e. slow to fast jazz) or just genre (i.e. slow jazz to slow classical). Surprisingly, the results showed that changing the genre had no effect on recall but changing the tempo decreased recall.

Healthy and Not So Healthy Effects

The key component of music that makes it beneficial is order. The order of the music from the baroque and classical periods causes the brain to respond in special ways. This order includes repetition and changes, certain patterns of rhythm, and pitch and mood contrasts. One key ingredient to the order of music from the baroque and classical periods is math. This is realized by the body and the human mind performs better when listening to this ordered music.

One shining example of the power of order in music is King George I of England. King George had problems with memory loss and stress management. He read from the Bible the story of King Saul and recognized that Saul had experienced the same type of problems that he was experiencing. George recognized that Saul overcame his problems by using special music. With this story in mind King George asked George Frederick Handel to write some special music for him that would help him in the same way that music helped Saul. Handel wrote his Water Music for this purpose.

Another key to the order in music is the music being the same and different. The brain works by looking at different pieces of information and deciding if they are different or the same. This is done in music of the baroque and classical periods by playing a theme and then repeating or changing the theme. The repetition is only done once. More than one repetition causes the music to become displeasing, and also causes a person to either enter a state of sub-conscious thinking or a state of anger. Dr. Ballam goes on to say that, "The human mind shuts down after three or four repetitions of a rhythm, or a melody, or a harmonic progression." Furthermore, excessive repetition causes people to release control of their thoughts. Rhythmic repetition is used by people who are trying to push certain ethics in their music.

An Australian physician and psychiatrist, Dr. John Diamond, found a direct link between muscle strength/weakness and music. He discovered that all of the muscles in the entire body go weak when subjected to the "stopped anapestic beat" of music from hard rock musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Queen, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Bachman - Turner Overdrive, and The Band. Dr. Diamond found another effect of the anapestic beat. He called it a "switching" of the brain. Dr. Diamond said this switching occurs when the actual symmetry between both of the cerebral hemispheres is destroyed causing alarm in the body along with lessened work performance, learning and behavior problems in children, and a "general malaise in adults." In addition to harmful, irregular beats in rock music, shrill frequencies prove to also be harmful to the body. Bob Larson, a Christian minister and former rock musician, remembers that in the 70's teens would bring raw eggs to a rock concert and put them on the front of the stage. The eggs would be hard boiled by the music before the end of the concert and could be eaten. Dr. Earl W. Flosdorf and Dr. Leslie A. Chambers showed that proteins in a liquid medium were coagulated when subjected to piercing high-pitched sounds

On Animals and Plants, Too!

Tests on the effects of music on living organisms besides humans have shown that special pieces of music (including The Blue Danube) aid hens in laying more eggs. Music can also help cows to yield more milk. Researchers from Canada and the former Soviet Union found that wheat will grow faster when exposed to special ultrasonic and musical sounds. Rats were tested by psychologists to see how they would react to Bach's music and rock music. The rats were placed into two different boxes. Rock music was played in one of the boxes while Bach's music was played in the other box. The rats could choose to switch boxes through a tunnel that connected both boxes. Almost all of the rats chose to go into the box with the Bach music even after the type of music was switched from one box to the other.
Play Bach's Air on The G String
Play Strauss' The Blue Danube

Research took a new avenue when in 1968 a college student, Dorthy Retallack, started researching the effects of music on plants. She took her focus off of studying the beat and put in on studying the different sounds of music. Retallack tested the effects of music on plant growth by using music styles including classical, jazz, pop, rock, acid rock, East Indian, and country. She found that the plants grew well for almost every type of music except rock and acid rock. Jazz, classical, and Ravi Shankar turned out to be the most helpful to the plants. However, the plants tested with the rock music withered and died. The acid rock music also had negative effects on the plant growth.

What causes an inability to recall a melody, beat, or music? - Psychology

Melody is a timely arranged linear sequence of pitched sounds that the listener perceives as a single entity.

Melody is one of the most basic elements of music. A note is a sound with a particular pitch and duration. String a series of notes together, one after the other, and you have a melody. But the melody of a piece of music isn’t just any string of notes. It’s the notes that catch your ear as you listen the line that sounds most important is the melody. First of all, a melodic line of a piece of music is a succession of notes that make up a melody. Extra notes, such as trills and slides, that are not part of the main melodic line but are added to the melody either by the composer or the performer to make the melody more complex and interesting are called ornaments or embellishments.

There are some common terms used in discussions of melody that you may find it useful to know. Below are some more concepts that are associated with melody.

How to conduct an effective root cause analysis: techniques and methods

There are a large number of techniques and strategies that we can use for root cause analysis, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Below we’ll cover some of the most common and most widely useful techniques.

5 Whys

One of the more common techniques in performing a root cause analysis is the 5 Whys approach. We may also think of this as the annoying toddler approach. For every answer to a WHY question, follow it up with an additional, deeper “Ok, but WHY?” question. Children are surprisingly effective at root cause analysis. Common wisdom suggests that about five WHY questions can lead us to most root causes—but we could need as few as two or as many as 50 WHYs.

Example: Let’s think back to our football concussion example. First, our player will present a problem: Why do I have such a bad headache? This is our first WHY.
First answer: Because I can’t see straight.
Second why: Why can’t you see straight?
Second answer: Because I my head hit the ground.
Third why: Why did your head hit the ground?
Third answer: I got hit tackled to the ground and hit my head hard.
Fourth why: Why did hitting the ground hurt so much?
Fourth answer: Because I wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Fifth why: Why weren’t you wearing a helmet?
Fifth answer: Because we didn’t have enough helmets in our locker room.

Aha. After these five questions, we discover that the root cause of the concussion was most likely from a lack of available helmets. In the future, we could reduce the risk of this type of concussion by making sure every football player has a helmet. (Of course, helmets don’t make us immune to concussions. Be safe!)

The 5 Whys serve as a way to avoid assumptions. By finding detailed responses to incremental questions, answers become clearer and more concise each time. Ideally, the last WHY will lead to a process that failed, one which can then be fixed.

Change Analysis/Event Analysis

Another useful method of exploring root cause analysis is to carefully analyze the changes leading up to an event.
This method is especially handy when there are a large number of potential causes. Instead of looking at the specific day or hour that something went wrong, we look at a longer period of time and gain a historical context.

1. First, we’d list out every potential cause leading up to an event. These should be any time a change occurred for better or worse or benign.

Example: Let’s say the event we’re going to analyze is an uncharacteristically successful day of sales in New York City, and we wanted to know why it was so great so we can try to replicate it. First, we’d list out every touch point with each of the major customers, every event, every possibly relevant change.

2. Second, we’d categorize each change or event by how much influence we had over it. We can categorize as Internal/External, Owned/Unowned, or something similar.

Example: In our great Sales day example, we’d start to sort out things like “Sales representative presented new slide deck on social impact” (Internal) and other events like “Last day of the quarter” (External) or “First day of Spring” (External).

3. Third, we’d go event by event and decide whether or not that event was an unrelated factor, a correlated factor, a contributing factor, or a likely root cause. This is where the bulk of the analysis happens and this is where other techniques like the 5 Whys can be used.

Example: Within our analysis we discover that our fancy new Sales slide deck was actually an unrelated factor but the fact it was the end of the quarter was definitely a contributing factor. However, one factor was identified as the most likely root cause: the Sales Lead for the area moved to a new apartment with a shorter commute, meaning that she started showing up to meetings with clients 10 minutes earlier during the last week of the quarter.

4. Fourth, we look to see how we can replicate or remedy the root cause.

Example: While not everyone can move to a new apartment, our organization decides that if Sales reps show up an extra 10 minutes earlier to client meetings in the final week of a quarter, they may be able to replicate this root cause success.

Cause and effect Fishbone diagram

Another common technique is creating a Fishbone diagram, also called an Ishikawa diagram, to visually map cause and effect. This can help identify possible causes for a problem by encouraging us to follow categorical branched paths to potential causes until we end up at the right one. It’s similar to the 5 Whys but much more visual.

Typically we start with the problem in the middle of the diagram (the spine of the fish skeleton), then brainstorm several categories of causes, which are then placed in off-shooting branches from the main line (the rib bones of the fish skeleton). Categories are very broad and might include things like “People” or “Environment.” After grouping the categories, we break those down into the smaller parts. For example, under “People” we might consider potential root cause factors like “leadership,” “staffing,” or “training.”

As we dig deeper into potential causes and sub-causes, questioning each branch, we get closer to the sources of the issue. We can use this method eliminate unrelated categories and identify correlated factors and likely root causes. For the sake of simplicity, carefully consider the categories before creating a diagram.

Common categories to consider in a Fishbone diagram:

  • Machine (equipment, technology)
  • Method (process)
  • Material (includes raw material, consumables, and information)
  • Man/mind power (physical or knowledge work)
  • Measurement (inspection)
  • Mission (purpose, expectation)
  • Management / money power (leadership)
  • Maintenance
  • Product (or service)
  • Price
  • Promotion (marketing)
  • Process (systems)
  • People (personnel)
  • Physical evidence
  • Performance
  • Surroundings (place, environment)
  • Suppliers
  • Skills

Watch the video: Common Causes of Heart Failure. Nucleus Health (August 2022).