Music and Memory

During Christmas time my family always pulls out the records/CDs/pandora radio stations, etc. and listens to, often times, the same music we have been listening to for 29 years.  So many of life's occasions call for music but this time of year especially.  Somehow the music reminds me of being a little girl sitting around with my loved ones.  This got me thinking about the connection between music and memory.  I believe that music not only keeps our minds sharp but it also keeps us in touch with who we really are.

I recently watched a documentary about how music is connected to the neurological system, it was called "The Music Instinct:  Science and Song."  In this movie Bobby McFerrin asks questions about music throughout time, culture and how it effects the brain.  I found it interesting to actually see scans of the brain change and activate when the person was listening to or creating music.  These parts of the brain are supposedly not active when using any other sense. 

And while sensory memory lasts for less time than our short term memory it seems to have a great impact.  This article shows the results for a study of alzheimers patients who show greater chances of "face-name recognition" after hearing a familiar song compared to those patients who did not hear any music before their test.

As a school music teacher I see the power of music change my own students' memories.  Teachers who put math facts into the melody of a popular song have students achieving higher scores on tests. 

Perhaps you might consider pulling out some of the music you listened to as a child and seeing what memories you come up with.  Happy New Year to all.