There are a lot of studies about the effect of music to memory. Music was defined as a form of entertainment that lessens boredom and it may increase productivity of a person. There’s music in almost everywhere, for example in parties, events, shows, and more. Music listening is one of the most enigmatic of human behaviors. Most common behaviors have a recognizable utility that can be plausibly traced to the practical motives of survival and procreation. Moreover, in the array of seemingly odd behaviors, few behaviors match music for commandeering so much time, energy, and money. Music listening is one of the most popular leisure activities. Music is a ubiquitous companion to people’s everyday lives. (Schäfer, T., Sedlmeier, P., Städtler, C., & Huron, D. (2013)). Listening to music is a common pastime amongst many people more so of students and younger people who listen to music while studying.
Music is very popular these days, especially among college students. Roy (2009, p. 505) stated that it’s unusual for students not to be around music; she explains that this is true because of the increased availability of portable music devices and free music on the internet. Mobile phones, MP3 players, Smart phones and any gadget that plays music instantly is readily available in this generation. People have easy access to music; they can listen to it anytime and anywhere, especially students. Music has now become a part of people’s everyday lives, that’s why some students tend to listen to music even while studying. Anderson and Fuller, 2010), found that about 70% of students listen to music while studying. The types of sound or beat they prefer even vary. Some have a taste for Acoustic, Jazz, Pop, Rap, Blues or even Folk songs. Well, it really depends on a lot of factors like culture, environment, etc. But is listening to music while studying conducive for learning? If so, what genre might best suit students?
Many different genres of music have been studied as to their effects on different variables. Classical music has been found to have a range of effects from increasing purchases (Areni ; Kim, 1993) to affecting memory and cognition (Hallam, Price ; Katsarou, 2002). For example, Rausher, Shaw and Ky (1993) found that listening to classical music improved intelligence and memory (the “Mozart Effect”) but others have been unsuccessful in replicating these findings (Pietschnig, Foracek ; Formann, 2010; Steele, Bass ; Crook, 1999; McKelvie ; Low, 2002).
Classical music is generally viewed as the best to listen to whilst studying, however there is no decisive research to back this. What has been proven is that listening to music which is constant in state, has a steady a repetitive pulse, and is not too loud is better for concentration than inconsistent musical styles, meaning you should probably avoid listening to anything labelled ‘Mathcore’ when trying to be productive. The same study also found evidence that people perform worse when listening to their preferred, rather than neutral, music (Baker, 2016). In Mjoen’s (2011) study, listening to classical music that was unfamiliar increased the number of words recalled. It was compared with popular radio music (PRM) and popular radio music played classically (PRMPC). The significant difference of unfamiliar radio music played classically (URMPC) from the other two suggests that listening to unfamiliar classical music is preferable for people who like listening to music while studying. However, this study is not generalizable for people who don’t listen to music while studying because there’s no control group that wasn’t immersed in music while studying.
In line with this, Mammarella et al. stated that listening to classical music significantly increased working memory compared with no music condition or with white noise. This study shows that classical music enhances cognitive performance in healthy older adults. According to the researchers, this is due to the arousal and mood effect produced by music. Moreover, this increase in arousal results to a greater level of attention which can make the learner process more material than without the presence of music. The reason why some types of music are better than others in fostering memory retention is due to rhythm, note sequence or easy acquisition of the melody. Hence, for music to be effective in aiding recall, it must be easily acquired and must not subtract relevant amounts of resources from working memory (Mammarella, Fairfield ; Cornoldi, 2007).
A British radio station, called Classic FM, specializes in western classical music whose programming is designed for relaxation (Dibben ; Williamson, 2007) and relaxation has shown to be beneficial for the brain to work more efficiently (Blanchard, 1979). If the brain works more efficiently, better memory may be a result.
On the other hand, a research study that aims to know if music has an effect, negatively or positively to recall ability made used of another variable to compare: words and digits. The recall of these were tested in three conditions; silent, vocal/pop and instrumental. This research showed that music has a detrimental effect on recalling words than digits. In the silent condition, there was no significant difference between the number of recalled words and digits. There was also no significant difference with the recall ability of men and women (Jameson, 2013)
A section in Maglione (2006) article, classical music affects the brain’s organization and abilities, through its melody and rhythm. The rhythm raises the level of serotonin produced in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, involved in the transmission of nerve impulses that helps maintaining joyous feelings. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased. In fact depression is a consequence of the scarce production of this hormone. Serotonin is released when the brain is “positively shocked”. For instance: if we look at a splendid painting, smell a delicious scent, feel an extraordinary sensation, eat something delicious or listen to some charming music, then the brain lets off a certain amount of serotonin which arouses and maximizes pleasant feelings. Music’s rhythm can also stimulate other natural cadencies of the body, resembling the heartbeat, or the Alfa-rhythm of the brain, and this effect is used to counter the development of clinical depression. The melody instead, is the “sparkle” that catalyses the creative process in our minds. The known effects of music on the brain are varied: music affects from humans’ and animals’ brains to plants’ development. In humans, music enhances spatial IQ, by increasing the short and long – term memory. In fact, musical trained musicians perform better on word memory tests than other adults. Children benefit from classical music’s virtues even more than adults; they experience advantages in cognitive skills. Animals and plants as well have proven a certain predisposition towards classical music. Just listening to this musical style enhances the brain’s ability; playing it, results even in a major brain development. The commonly known “Mozart effect” is a phenomena that suggests the improvement on the performance of spatio-temporal reasoning and short- term memory through the listening of complex music, such as Mozart’s two-piano concertos. Music, especially the one from the “baroque” period with 60 beats per minute beat pattern, affects the amplitude and frequency of brain waves, measurable through and electro – encephalogram. Music also affects breathing rate and electrical resistance of the skin, as result of the influence on the Hormone system. This brings the pupils to dilate, and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This allows the brain to concentrate more easily, and to assimilate more information in less time. This happens because music stimulates the left and right hemispheres of the brain at same moment. The contemporaneous activation of the two lobes boosts learning and information intake, therefore augmenting cognitive skills. It has been proven that learning may be increased to at least fivefold, through the using of this musical style. It is for this reason that story tellers in the middle ages sang out their tails; in order to remember the narrations consisting of more than a thousand of lines. Greek dramatists based their selves on the same principle to memorize long soliloquies.
Another genre that affects mind, In Ott’s (2013) study, rock music can either hinder or enhance a student’s mental performance, especially in the area of academic study. A variety of research shows it depends on the context. In the concentration and Studying for school, According to a study by Imperial College London, male participants who listened to rock music while performing various tasks had more difficulty staying concentrated. A University of Toronto study confirmed this for teenagers of any gender: listening to fast, loud music hinders the teenager’s ability to study, especially in reading comprehension. While in Creativity, rock music might not help some students while they’re studying, other research from the University of Toronto shows when a young person listens to their favorite rock music before studying followed by studying in silence, it not only increases the brain’s performance, but it also enhances creativity.
In the study, Professor Glenn Schellenberg debunked the popular Mozart theory, which claims listening only to Mozart will help students perform better. The study showed that when a student listens to their favorite genre of music before studying, no matter which genre it is as long as it’s something they like strongly and are already familiar with, their creativity and performance is boosted. Rock music is effective because its high energy can easily hold a teenager’s attention, and its memorable “hooks”–i.e. well-crafted patterns of motifs and riffs that stick in the head–help students memorize concepts when the lessons are tied to rock songs.
Indicated in Pedersen’s (2016) article, for men working on tasks requiring high levels of concentration, listening to rock music — as opposed to classical music or the sounds of an operating room — appears to hinder concentration and may lead to more mistakes, according to a new study by researchers at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music. Music and/or noise was found to have no effect on women’s performance, though they generally performed better than men at the game involved in the study. Overall, men who listened to AC/DC were slower and made more mistakes, compared to men who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating room. In fact, the song Thunderstruck was tied to around 36 mistakes on average, compared to 28 mistakes while listening to the Sonata and operating room noises. It took volunteers around one minute to complete the task. Generally, women took longer to remove the body parts but made fewer mistakes. Significantly, women did not appear to be distracted at all by the rock music, and none of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed.
While it is unclear why rock music affected men more than women, the researchers suggest that perhaps men are more susceptible to auditory stress — a state triggered by loud or discordant music. (Pedersen, T., 2016)
For many years, some have argued that rock was running the minds of young people, the publication adds. It says that (to provide some empirical evidence) neurologists and a physicist recently teamed up to put this claim to a test through three groups of mice. One group listened to no music, another to Mozart, and a third to rock music. But first they ran the mice through a maze to establish a base time of 10 minutes. Then they separated the mice in their distinctive groups. After one month, the mice that listened to no musical at all reduced the time taken to navigate the maze by half (five minutes). The mice that listened to Mozart did even better. They navigated the maze in only one-and-a-half minutes. The rock music mice “bumped their way through the maze” taking 30 minutes, eventually, the experiment came to a halt due to the rock music mice eating one another. To determine why the rock music mice were having so much trouble, the researchers examined their brains. Sure enough, they found abnormal branching and sprouting of the nerve cells and disruptions in the normal amounts of messenger RNA, a chemical crucial to memory storage. This could help explain why rock music listeners are more prone to use drugs and engage in extramarital sex, and why heavy metal listeners are much more likely to consider suicide. On the other hand, it has been demonstrated that classical music helps college students learn spatial relationships in geometry. The document asserts in conclusion that: “If you listen to the wrong kind of music, you will become the wrong kind of person. Yet there is the wholesale Christian music that helps to ennoble the mind”. (Mulenga, A., 2008)
According to United Kingdom legislation you are obliged to wear hearing protection if you work in an environment with 80 decibels of sound or higher on a daily basis. Pupils talk loudly among each other, one-to-one or in group settings. Yelling and screaming can expose pupils and teachers to dangerous noise levels as high as 130 dB, sometimes resulting in permanent hearing damage. In a quiet classroom setting, it has 40 dB, 60 dB is the average human voice and 70 dB and above irritating range of sound which also can lead to health problem more likely hearing loss.
Memory is an integral part of everyday life. It is required for simple tasks, such as keeping a phone number in mind before dialling it, or for more complex tasks such as learning a mathematical formula to apply to a sum. Memory is based on three basic processes. It can be defined as the process by which individuals encode, store and retrieve information (Feldman, 2004). Memory is a process that keeps, recover and uses information that is no longer present (Goldstein, 2011). There have been many researchers that suggest models and theories that try to explain what memory is and what it does. It is proposed that memory has combines structures including sensory memory, short-term memory, long-term memory and working memory. Each of these structures give distinct stages in the memory process and has different time-spans for different information (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968; Baddeley, 1986; Cowan, 1988; Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995).
Memory is the process by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Encoding allows information that is from the outside world to reach our senses in the forms of chemical and physical stimuli. In this first stage it must change the information so that it may put the memory in to the encoding storage is the second memory stage or process. Encoding is the receiving of sensory information and transforming it into some form which can be stored. Storing is the process of putting the information into memory. Retrieval is the process of gaining access to the stored information (Morgan, King, Weisz & Schopler, 2008).
The interaction of these three processes is required for the proper functioning of memory. Memory failure, that is forgetting, can occur when information has not been properly encoded and stored and therefore, there can be no retrieval (Baddeley, Eysenck and Anderson, 2009).
Retention is one of the important factors affecting memory. Retention and recalling are key common processes. Retention is the capability to hold information, and retrieval is the recollection of held information in the mind. However, retention may interfere by selecting the attention to other internal or external stimuli that are not related to previous information will cause overlapping of the acquired information. (Amir and Malic, 2013).
According to Cdenlinger (2012), memory is an essential part of lifestyles that is vaguely understood. Memory is our brain’s ability to encode, store, retain, organize, alter, and recover information and past experiences. In accordance to Amir and Malik (2013), Memory retention is one of the key memory processes. Retention is the capability to hold information. Other research concluded that memory retention is how we the memory maintain information over periods of time (Omotayo, 2013). Hence, this process involves various functions, including acquiring the information, encoding the content, and storing it so you can retrieve the information when you need it (Mitchell, 2014).
According to Amir and Malik (2013), the human memory system is a complex system and is difficult to separate its components into different parts. However, in terms of time, capacity, and operations, it is typically divided into 3 types: 1 Sensory memory: The capability of holding sensory information from stimuli received through the 5 senses. Its time duration is very short and occurs in seconds. It works as a buffer in getting the stimuli via the senses. This information is then handed over from sensory to STM through selective attention. 2. Short-term memory: A temporary storage of small amounts of material for a short period, typically up to 15 seconds for approximately 7 items – information generated in STM due to paying attention to sensory memory. 3. Long-term memory: The collection of material over long durations of time; includes unlimited amounts of information.
More of the researchers focused on short-term memory (STM) because it is responsible for immediate recall as it holds information for a short period of time (Baddeley, Eysenck ; Anderson, 2009). Most information that is stored in STM is eventually forgotten with a less chance to access long-term memory (LTM). There is a 15 to 20 seconds duration of STM provided there is no rehearsal of information presented (Goldstein, 2011). One measure of STM is digit span which attempts to explain how many digits a person is able to recall. Typically, a person can recall between 5 and 9 digits (Miller, 1956). Krueger and Salthouse (2011) examined the serial position effect and they proposed that the recency effect, where last items on a list are better recalled, due to the most recent items being still readily available in the STM at the time of recall. Krueger and Salthouse (2011) also discovered that recency recall is less dependent on episodic memory than primacy recall or recall of the middle items on a list because its present In STM.
The working of memory cannot be reduced to just a single explanation. It is composed of various interrelated systems. In 1968, the Atkinson-Shiffrin Model of Memory was proposed. It stated a three-stage model of memory. Information, which was recorded by an individual’s sensory system, enters sensory memory which holds the information momentarily. The information then moves to short-term memory, where it is stored for 15 to 25 seconds. And finally, the information moves to long-term memory where it is relatively permanent. The amount and kind of rehearsal of the information determines whether the information will move from short-term memory to long-term memory, or not (Feldman, 2004).
A person’s working memory last only for a short period of time wherein information can be manipulated. It also has limitations that when exceeded could lead to memory loss. Distraction is one of the hindrances that could affect recall ability. It sways people’s attention leading to loss of information (Gatherway & Alloway, 2007).
Based on the phonological loop it deals with the storage of verbal and auditory information; the visuospatial sketchpad stores spatial and visual information; and the central executive acts as a mediator between LTM and WM and primarily divides attention between the different activities that the person is performing, for example recalling visual stimuli that is presented to a person while listening to a background music (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974). This is indicative of the central executive’s attempt at ignoring “irrelevant” information (e.g visual stimuli to be recalled). WM model of Baddeley ; Hitch (1974), is important in explaining the connection between the development of recall accuracy, age, and speech rate. Further investigation led Baddeley to re-consider WM by adding the episodic buffer to its composition which he believes he provides more storage as well as enabling a connection with LTM, however, he admits the full extent of the episodic buffer is not yet known (Baddeley et al., 2009). Furthermore, even though the WM has been extensively studied, there is not much evidence of its function for music (Williamson, Baddeley, ; Hitch, 2006). There is, neuroscientific evidence emerging to suggest that the cortical areas that are typically related to storage and rehearsal of WM are also active when a person is listening to music (Brown, Martinez, Hodges, Fox, ; Parson, 2004). Hulme and Tordoff (1989) studied the acoustic similarity on series recall and their findings suggest support for Baddeley and Hitch’s WM model. Hulme and Tordoff (1989) suggested the development of the articulatory loop.
Crawford and Stankov (1983) point out individual differences in recall ability. It focused on primacy and recency effects and the cognitive abilities that are linked. The finding suggest that primacy effect is related to procession speed, with higher speed of processing leading to greater recall of the first few items in a list. Hulme and Tordoff (1989) investigated the effects of speech rate, word length, and acoustic similarity on serial recall. The results from their study suggest that recall accuracy increases with age, corresponding with increased speech rate. Krueger and Salthouse (2011) examined the recall ability of words based on different list sections of those words. In this study, they dealt with serial position effect which is identified but the first and last sections of a list being better recalled than the middle sections. This is in turn broken into the primacy effect, where the first items on a list are better recalled, and the recency effect, where the last items are better recalled.
A study of Singh (2006) says that individual memory is seemingly the more untouched and somehow neglected aspect of efforts to develop effective learning solutions. Several psychoanalytical studies have been conducted in the past to understand the process of learning and retention. One such study, the Serial Position Effect Theory, attempts to describe the phenomenon of retention and decay of memory. The study postulates the effect of “Primacy” and “Recency” on the retention of information in the memory and similar patterns are observed across all samples of the test population. The theory states that the information presented most recently are more likely to be retained in the memory that the information presented in between.
Omotayo (2013) concluded that forgetting or memory loss refers to apparent loss of information already encoded and stored in an individual’s long-term memory. It is a spontaneous or gradual process in which old memories are unable to be recalled from memory storage. Problems with remembering, learning and retaining new information are a few of the most common complaints of older adults. Many different factors influence the actual process of forgetting. Omotayo (2013) also added an example of one of these factors could be the amount of time the new information is stored in the memory. Events involved with forgetting can happen either before or after the actual memory process. The amount of time the information is stored in the memory, depending on the minutes hours or even days, can increase or decrease depending on how well the information is encoded. Studies show that retention improves the increased rehearsal. This improvement occurs because rehearsal helps to transfer information into long term memory.
Failing to retrieve an event does not mean that this specific event has been forever forgotten. This could just mean the information was not encoded well. Research has shown that there are a few health behaviors that to some extent can prevent forgetting from happening so often. One of the simplest ways to keep the brain healthy and prevent forgetting is to stay active and exercise. Staying active is important because overall it keeps the body healthy. When the body is healthy the brain is healthy and less inflamed as well. Older adults who were more active were found to have had less episodes of forgetting compared to those older adults who were less active (Omotayo, 2013).
Trace decay theory as stated by Omotayo (2013) explains that memories that are stored in both short term and long-term memory system. According to this theory, short term memory can only retain information for a limited amount of time, around 15 to 30 seconds unless it is rehearsed. If it is not rehearsed, the information will start to gradually fade away and decay. Donald Hebb proposed that incoming information causes a series of neurons to create a neurological memory trace in the brain which would result in change in the morphological and chemical changes in the brain and would fade with time. Repeated firing causes a structural change in the synapses. Rehearsal of repeated firing maintains the memory in STM until a structural change is made. Therefore, forgetting happens as a result of automatic fading of the memory trace in brain. This theory states that the events between learning and recall have no effects on recall; the important factor that affects is the duration that the information has been retained. Hence, as stated by Omotayo (2013), as longer time passes more of traces are subject to decay and as a result the information is forgotten. One major problem about this theory is that in real-life situation, the time between encoding a piece of information and recalling it, is going to be filled with all different kinds of events that might happen to the individual.
According to Wesson (2012), while memory cannot occur without learning, once information has been learned, our memory may allow the learning to decay. Occasionally, memory will unintentionally play a bit loose with the truth regarding what was previously learned. In accordance to Robertson (2012), interference between memories may be due to an overlap between otherwise independent systems. Any overlap need not be complete because declarative memories may only interfere with a specific component of a procedural memory. The concept of an overlapping architecture explaining the interference between different memories is appealing because human functional imaging studies have demonstrated that brain areas such as the MTL are activated during both declarative and procedural learning, and so there is experimental evidence for an overlap between declarative and procedural processing. Thus, interference could arise from a competition between declarative and procedural processing for a shared overlapping resource. However, several recent studies have started to challenge the classical idea that memory interference arises from a competition between memories. In the case of the researcher’s study, music is tested if it’s a form of distraction.
According to Thorne (2009), the memory demands for school-age children are much greater than they are for adults. As adults, we have already acquired much of the knowledge and skills we need to function day to day. Although the knowledge base for some fields such as technology changes rapidly, the new information is generally highly specific and builds on existing knowledge. On the other hand, school children are constantly bombarded with new knowledge in multiple topic areas in which they may or may not be interested. Additionally, they are expected to both learn and demonstrate the mastery of this knowledge on a weekly basis. Thus, an effective and efficient memory is critical for school success.
Others may find music distracting while studying while some may enjoy it and even play it out loud. If the latter is true, the researchers aim to know which of the music genres is more conducive for retrieving memory.