Examining the Effects of
Music on Memory
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
This experiment was designed to test the effects that classical music has on memory. Previous experiments have shown that the effects of music can be beneficial in work and school environments. Our hypothesis was that a group that is required to listen to classical music during a study would outperform a group who studied in silence. The participants were college students and were randomly assigned to two groups. The control group performed the experiment in complete silence, while the experimental group listened to classical music the entire time. Both groups were asked to ...view middle of the document...
Research supporting the positive effect of music on cognitive functioning could affect the way teachers test their students in the classroom. For example, silence in a room versus playing soft music in the background to help the students retain more information. On the other side of the age spectrum, music could also be beneficial to cognitive performance in elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Although there is not much information currently on the issue, researchers have begun to explore the possibility that music increases the attention and memory capabilities of Alzheimer patients (Simmons-Stern, Budson & Ally, 2010). The following experiments are just a few of the vast amount that are examining the effects that music has on memory, all of which are aiming to build upon research and ideas that have been conducted before them.
Cassidy and Macdonald (2007) measured the effects that silence and three types of noise had on four dependent measures: immediate recall, delayed recall, free recall, and stroop. Cassidy and Macdonald had several different manipulations and hypotheses, but the most relevant hypothesis to the research was that silence would be the most preferred atmosphere with the high arousal (HA) music having a more negative effect on task performance than low arousal (LA) music. There was a significant difference in the comparison of silent conditions to HA and noise conditions while measuring immediate, delayed, free recall, and stroop. HA and noise conditions had a negative effect on memory recall. However, there was not a significant difference between silent and LA conditions, except on free recall. They concluded that task performance was significantly better in the presence of LA music than HA music.
Another experiment conducted by Schlittmeier and Hellbrück (2008) examined the disturbance of background noise in an office setting such as the sounds of typing, paper turning, and outside conversations. Offices tended to play continuous music to mask the background noise. The researches wondered if the music being played actually benefited the workers or if it also hindered cognitive performance. In one of their experiments, they found that playing continuous music helped cognitive performance compared to just experiencing background noise in the office.
While the previous researchers found that music improved cognitive performance, Cooper, Cotton and Goss (2008) found that performance was not necessarily enhanced by music. These college students did an experiment involving three groups: no music, classical music, and lyrical music. Each group was required to answer questions from a reading excerpt taken from an SAT website. They found that performance was not affected during the two music groups compared to the group that had no music.
Deems (2009) performed a more challenging experiment involving a distracter test to hinder short term memory when paired with music. The experiment consisted of 42...